It’s been a wonderfully busy day and I managed to spare some time to explore Apollo and his associated myths that I am currently working into a poem. I did come across this refreshing read from Michael Pollan’s, ‘The Botany of Desire’, in what he describes as a plant’s – eye view of the world. I chose the excerpt from his chapter on Tulips, page 97, in which he reveals, almost poetically, the difference in flowers, in Dionysian and Apollonian terms.
I find it amusing to see flowers described as left and right brained, but the kleenex of peony petals made my evening. It is such a poetic way to see spent tears described so, in the folded and crushed edges of peonies. I thought to share this as a great introduction to Apollonian clarity and order through Pollan’s eyes, that reads like a prose poem.
I pass this dwarf mountain pine on my walk often and the cones brought to mind a poem I posted in August last year, about the logarithmic spiral in ‘The Order of the Spiral’.  This species of Pine is a very adaptable sort, it survives in full sun and well drained loamy soil. It is also tolerant of clay and sandy soils which are quite extreme for a Gymnosperm like this. Although it thrives in regions of high elevation, it can survive maritime exposure and grows in coastal areas. One wouldn’t think much of this unassuming Pine that cries in terpene every time the rain washes over its needles that can also stain green. The turpentine that can be distilled from its oleo-resin has antiseptic properties. The essential oils in its branches are of medicinal value in a wide variety of respiratory ailments. The substance left from the resin after the extraction of turpentine is called Rosin and I never knew it was a component of sealing wax and varnish. The next time I pass this plant, I ought to express some gratitude for I love working varnish onto wood.
Pinecones are quite strange in that they can stay on pine trees for up to ten years before falling off. The seeds are enclosed within the scales and they remain tightly shut in inhospitable weather i.e. when it’s cold and damp. It is only in hot and dry weather that they will open to allow the release of seeds to seek new ground to germinate in .
It was an unusual theme to the poem today, that unfolded thus in bracts and spiralled in the fashion of pine cones. The glow bugs of the evening twinkled like stars on dusk grass and wove themselves right in.
An entropy of sorts, meanders through a whimsy breeze to blitz an yielding grass. Newton never quite postulated pine cones falling, for aren't they wooden reliquaries of passions enclosed in bracts? He sought solace under the soft of an apple tree. So, within rhyme, they reason they are in opposition to the gravitas of gravity, for their spirals are a golden ratio, kissing earth. It's strobile science, bract within bract within bract, hiding spirals in plain sight. The needles of the trees shed in virgules to punctuate a funereal prosody. The wind waves it past the marsh wrinkling water steeped in deathly leaves. It is sublime. I think it is sublime, when spirit seeks to unlock cosmic code in evening stars that drip off evergreen trees in a flickering urge to urgently flick, the knell, on ripened passions. The star struck glow bugs in this purposeful evening, illumined that. which recessed deep within the spirit, lay bracted and spiralled - those grave renunciations.
~The Order of the Spiral ~https://davinasolomon.com/2020/08/14/the-order-of-the-spiral/
Social media was my Achilles heel for quite a while. I always wondered, what need I had for virtual connections. Friends, family, colleagues are flesh and blood, as are even strangers in the city. The pandemic changed that. Creating a virtual friends network online, engaging with people I have never known before or even met, was something new. I follow an amazing creative community on Instagram besides tons of my ex students, friends, family etc. It’s a great network for me on the web, since I use very little, the other social media platforms. It took some learning though, moving out of my comfort zone and feeling confident about posting poems; I am no shrinking violet but displaying poetry on social media was quite disconcerting at first, not that I have issues with this at my blog (or blogs) but Instagram is another animal. It was through sheer trial and error of trying to understand the logic behind following, followers, likes, building engagement, hashtags, target audience etc  that I have arrived at thinking at how useful this platform is, not as it would be for an influencer or for those marketing merchandise, but for the sole purpose of tapping into the creative hive, so to speak and for an authentic engagement. I think, we encounter all sorts, those that are unfriendly in the ‘real world’ and those that are affable in the virtual. Contrary to claims made about social media (and I admit, I almost got off it, being disillusioned in some part by the superficiality I encountered at times), I think it helped instill discipline into my writing as I took it seriously in the company of others that truly enjoy their own engagement with their art. I believe some of the most amazing people I have met on Instagram are those that create, share their work, knowledge and talent for no credit whatsoever. This is exactly what they must mean when they say humanity is moving into the Age of Aquarius*.
For those not familiar with the symbolism of Astrology, Pisces (symbol of fish; think early Christians **) was the age of belief systems. It appears, we still run the gamut of belief, from self absorption masquerading as self belief to those beliefs embedded in the artifice and edifice of our times or within our various echo chambers. It has been said that the Age of Aquarius is meant to be visionary, rebellious, innovative and eccentric, humanitarian, a disruption of the system. If these are the buzzwords for the coming age, then would it not be great to be a part of it? The internet social media platforms with their promise of an extensive social connectivity fit right into this theme, given, they remain humanitarian, inclusive and uplifting. They will hopefully inspire innovation not simply in technology but in a change of mindset to allow for pluralistic endeavour beyond tribal sensibilities. This Aquarian vision should also slowly but steadily help re-evaluate the widgets of materialism, to morph into what are other than private granaries or exclusive pharaonic pyramids so to speak. Presently, the world appears quite far from this ideal but it seems to be headed there, at least in its Utopian futuristic technology.
Having imagined the Age of Aquarius as waking up to this transformed outlook in the reconfiguration of patterns, I’ve tried to parse these very ‘lofty thoughts’ in a poem 🙂 🙂 Herein, I have alluded to the four elements of the Zodiac: fire, earth, air, and water and we all have some bit of each. The Pileated Woodpecker, I recognise as a bird quite fitting the new Tech ideal, in that the holes it leaves in dead wood, are uniquely rectangular, like the black hole of a hand held device 🙂 It is a striking bird and we had the pleasure of seeing one, up close recently, but thought it better to watch and listen than take a picture.
Reluctant to the invitation of sleep, for yesterday's spent force was patterned in harlequin dreams, the kind that float onto your pillow you leave in a dripping sweat. And there, in the age of self belief, in hastily drawn testaments of portraiture, we were all exhorted to homogeneously flicker in fire, wallow in icy water, raise dust in a hot dry wind, covet the dead as does sodden Earth, iron out the wrinkles and stretch the taut attitude. Life, simply imagery, the miracle of the seven loaves and fish. But it's the lustre of dawn, that is a soft caress on every dark patch, the interplay of light in the leaves as they glisten to speak a language the spirit still struggles to understand. There's the pileated woodpecker, a rebel on his patch of spent mottled tree trunk, punctuating the silence in a Morse code racket envisioning a telegram through to the Age of Aquarius. Now, if these syllables should flow to spark fire in the soul of humanity, then we would all be fiery risings, fluidly flow to feel like water, think up the momentum of the wind, strop to the rhythm of a steadfast fecund Earth,
Edit: I substituted disturbing with punctuating; need to work on my patience with editing. I’m too in a hurry to post as soon as a post is done.
Some interesting reads: Coursera, a MOOC that started on very Aquarian principles, has some interesting courses on using digital apps for social media visuals, designing Instagram and Facebook stories, even courses on social media marketing and social media management.
The University of California runs a free course on the strategy of content marketing ~https://www.coursera.org/learn/content-marketing
The University of Virginia runs a course on personal branding. Content for both courses is offered for free without the certification ~https://www.coursera.org/learn/personal-branding
*https://www.astrologyzone.com/age-of-aquarius/ Here, Susan Miller, who has been described as fashion’s favourite astrologer by Vogue, makes predictions for a new century at her website, Astrology Zone. It’s always interesting how astrologers see it.
**https://www.vedanet.com/secrets-of-the-yugas-or-world-ages/ The Yugas or World-ages are an important part of Hindu thought and Vedic Astrology. Here David Frawley examines the view of the Yugas set forth by Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda and his guru Sri Yukteswar. I particularly enjoyed his description of cultures along the lines of ascending and descending, cultural and societal inertia or cultures that are deemed immature, materialistic and sensate oriented. It is another perspective on existence.
In the poem:
Miracle of the seven loaves and fish:In Christianity, the Feeding the multitude is two separate miracles of Jesus reported in the Gospels. The first miracle, the “Feeding of the 5,000”, is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (Matthew 14-Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6-Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9-Luke 9:12-17; John 6-John 6:1-14). The second miracle, the “Feeding of the 4,000”, with 7 loaves of bread and fish, is reported by Matthew 15 (Matthew 15:32-39) and Mark 8 (Mark 8:1-9), but not by Luke or John. (Source: Wikipedia)
In Western astrology and Sidereal astrology four elements are used: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. In ancient astrology, triplicities were more of a seasonal nature, so a season was given the qualities of an element, which means the signs associated with that season would be allocated to that element. (Source~Wikipedia)
The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens. (Source:https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/overview#)
My blogging hour today, looked a bit like this below; a bridge over moisture and pebbles 🤷♀️It’s a fancy bridge though, diacritical marks, lines and everything. (I notice now, some leafy punctuation too)
And then it increasingly began to look like this …
I love words, they can be so powerful when saying the right things; so gravelly when one has to eat them, so unfortunate too, when one tries to converse with a tone deaf animal, like supplications to a rattle snake for instance (I did that on one rare occasion a long while ago, it makes me cringe now and a reptile’s a reptile). It brings to mind a memory of when my driving instructor told me that I should never ever honk at a buffalo or a rickshaw (tuk tuk) as both would be unable to understand the language of the horn (I learnt to drive in India). Words are so beautiful when making a promise and heavenly when delivering on it, healing when in poems and mantras, trenchant in sarcasm, violent in battle cry, inspiring in revolutions, so important too for speaking long distance with family. Most of all, I love words in writing but sometimes, they seem very hard to string together…
is an overseer with a whip
and I feel like an excuse
of a bridge over waters
troubled in stone,
not exactly the Nile
but crossing sentences
across the shallows
is simply being cross at life
And the words rasp
at my throat,
circuit my lobes housed
in a head, fancy that!
But inflections are a mere
tingle in my fingertips.
This must be writer's bridge ×=====×
The term ‘writer’s block’ feels like a dam against a conceit of deep waters, that could burst into a deluge or something along the lines of it. A ‘writer’s bridge’ in contrast feels like one must de-silt the river, create depth, more flow, to be a bridge that actually counts.
Dawn accreted glow
like a need to walk
out of a tangle
of poetry in my head,
to open fields someplace.
It must be the stars
that rally us to
in thorny shrubs,
It reminds me of Anne Sexton’s poem, ambition bird and her business of words …
The business of words keeps me awake. I am drinking cocoa, the warm brown mama.
I would like a simple life yet all night I am laying poems away in a long box.
It is my immortality box, my lay-away plan, my coffin.
Ambition Bird by Anne Sexton Read more~https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/148744/the-ambition-bird-5c11322239c2b
It brings me to this wonderful transcript I read this morning, on a speech by Virginia Woolf, on words … In the link is an animation of a BBC radio broadcast she made on 29th of April 1937, they brought it down to two minutes and I enjoyed this immensely. It made my morning to listen to a person that I have come to love after engaging with poetry; it takes a certain maturity to warm up to Woolf, to see her brilliance with the very words she speaks of.
Words belong to each other, although, of course, only a great writer knows that the word “incarnadine” belongs to “multitudinous seas”. To combine new words with old words is fatal to the constitution of the sentence.
...hence the unnatural violence of much modern speech; it is a protest against the puritans. They are highly democratic, too; they believe that one word is as good as another; uneducated words are as good as educated words, uncultivated words as cultivated words, there are no ranks or titles in their society.
Nor do they like being lifted out on the point of a pen and examined separately. They hang together, in sentences, in paragraphs, sometimes for whole pages at a time. They hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change.
Perhaps that is their most striking peculiarity – their need of change. It is because the truth they try to catch is many-sided, and they convey it by being themselves many-sided, flashing this way, then that. Thus they mean one thing to one person, another thing to another person; they are unintelligible to one generation, plain as a pikestaff to the next. And it is because of this complexity that they survive.
Finally, and most emphatically, words, like ourselves, in order to live at their ease, need privacy. Undoubtedly they like us to think, and they like us to feel, before we use them; but they also like us to pause; to become unconscious. Our unconsciousness is their privacy; our darkness is their light… That pause was made, that veil of darkness was dropped, to tempt words to come together in one of those swift marriages which are perfect images and create everlasting beauty. But no – nothing of that sort is going to happen tonight. The little wretches are out of temper; disobliging; disobedient; dumb. What is it that they are muttering? “Time’s up! Silence!”
If not for this broadcast, I would have never known that ‘incarnadine’ is actually a colour and is defined as a bright crimson or pinkish-red colour. (And no, I did not study Macbeth at school)
'Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red' Macbeth (Act II, Sc. II).
Incarnadine brings to mind an image of the Red Canna by Georgia O’Keeffe, that I took at the library recently, which suggests, incarnadine should in fact be like the poetry of words, indefinable, not conscripted to one single shade and number in a paint catalogue. It manifests when one looks at the entire image, much like evolution I would like to believe, intricate fractals in the details. So it is with words perhaps, do they entropy towards the heat death of silence I wonder ? Some believe in Gods and deities, I believe in the colours of the red Canna today, the words of Virginia Woolf, the breath of fresh air and beauty in the infinite complexity of our universe. I think our lives are secreted within yet occluded by the literature of words in the science of being and as Woolf so elegantly observed: (at least about the English language, could apply to any other)
Our business is to see what we can do with the English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? That is the question.
And the person who could answer that question would deserve whatever crown of glory the world has to offer. Think what it would mean if you could teach, if you could learn, the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper would tell the truth, would create beauty. But there is, it would appear, some obstacle in the way, some hindrance to the teaching of words. For though at this moment at least 100 professors are lecturing upon the literature of the past, at least a thousand critics are reviewing the literature of the present, and hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women are passing examinations in English literature with the utmost credit, still – do we write better, do we read better than we read and wrote 400 years ago when we were unlectured, uncriticised, untaught? Is our Georgian literature a patch on the Elizabethan?
Where then are we to lay the blame? Not on our professors; not on our reviewers; not on our writers; but on words. It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most unteachable of all things. Of course, you can catch them and sort them and place them in alphabetical order in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in moments of emotion when we most need words we find none. Yet there is the dictionary; there at our disposal are some half-a-million words all in alphabetical order.
But can we use them? No, because words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind.
Anne Sexton poem~https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/148744/the-ambition-bird-5c11322239c2b
Virginia Woolf on words ~https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20160324-the-only-surviving-recording-of-virginia-woolf
To my muse, the green green grass of home!My sentiment exactly 😅 Sometimes, as the writers of grain, even the Gramineae need a creative lift …
For Poaceae: It's when your green grass bears the Midas touch and all is gold, those words ... golden harvest ... aglitter in senescence, simply kindling for a flame. It's raining today, grey skies metamorphose to green grass, colour to colour. When a countenance is coloured in a smile, life will mist a rainbow, as it glitters emerald and sparkles peridot 🙂
Edit: Poaceae or Gramineae is a large family of monocotyledonous flowering plants known as grasses.
The NASA’s Discovery Program has proposed a new mission called Trident, which, much like the three-pronged spear carried by the ancient Roman sea god Neptune, is set to explore Neptune’s largest and most unusual moon, Triton . In Greek mythology, Triton was the son of Poseidon, who is Neptune in Roman myths. Triton, as Neptune’s son, blows a sea conch . Triton, as Neptune’s moon, runs retrograde, As Neptune rotates, Triton orbits in the opposite direction and no other large moon in the solar system does that. Triton has an unusual atmosphere with charged particles, a layer called the ionosphere which is 10 times more active than that of any other moon in the solar system. The question arose from when NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune’s strange moon Triton three decades ago; How could an ancient moon six times farther from the Sun than Jupiter still be active and if there were something in its interior that is still warm enough to drive the resurfacing activity observed in the images taken by Voyager 2. This trait is strange because ionospheres are generally charged by solar energy, but Triton and Neptune are 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth, so researchers hypothesise that some other energy source must be at work. (Factoid: It takes 165 Earth years for Neptune to complete one orbit around the Sun). The Trident mission will launch sometime in October 2025 (with a backup in October 2026) and would take advantage of a ‘once in a 13-year’ window, when the Earth is properly aligned with Jupiter so that the spacecraft can use the gravitational pull of Jupiter as a slingshot straight to Triton for an extended 13 day encounter in 2038. I was intrigued by the icy volcanism hypothesised of Triton, that somehow merged with my poem today, on a surprisingly and seemingly distant topic as can be found in a Levantine salad called tabbouleh .
Now there’s a place called Jonestown, a Northern Lebanon town, where beneath approximately 12.4 square miles, with dimensions of roughly 2 by 6 miles lies the Jonestown Volcanic Field . There’s no volcanic activity there, but it is a mysterious area where the bedrock isn’t well exposed. The volcanics here are composed of igneous rocks (e.g. basalt) which became ‘overprinted’ or deformed during when the ancient supercontinent Pangaea assembled. It is possible that the volcanic rocks came from underwater volcanoes of a mid-ocean ridge or seamount that leaked magma, which cooled into rocks and slowly moved farther away from their point of origin. There is limestone around this volcanic field area, the age of which is unknown since it contains no fossils. The area is also thickly covered in vegetation which makes it difficult to analyse the soil. Reddish-purple soil, for instance, would indicate igneous rocks, unfortunately, most of the igneous rocks around Jonestown are quite weathered and fractured which makes this analysis difficult . Now you see, Jonestown is actually a borough in Lebanon County in Southeastern Pennsylvania and you may have thought it to be somewhere in the Levant 🙂
Sunday had something of the Levant in it. In fact it was lovely with friends and we even celebrated Lebanon as we took over some Tabbouleh that I was able to make and a delicious Baba Ganoush, which I finally got the hang of. I’ve been inspired thus, to write a poem for Tabbouleh, for Lebanon, for the volcanic field of Lebanon county and share my recipe too. The universe is generous in its prompts 😉
I also tried to revisit characters in Virgil’s Latin epic poem Aeneid, those of Aeneas and Dido. There is something about the epic building exercises of writers that make books and ideas potent, dangerous and powerful , especially since they haunt the imagination long after the text loses its relevance. Academic interest helps to perpetuate myth, project ideas, thread them into contemporary narrative. In the myth of Aeneas and Dido, I find once again the sad tropes of emotional lustful females and calculating dutiful males, that haunt the patriarchy of ancient Rome, its marble male stoicism. The intervention of Neptune, Venus, Cupid, Juno, Jupiter and other heavenly bodies, obliterates free will and I am led to conclude that writers of popular epics tend to undercut the idea of a free evolution by a rigid fatalism of sorts, in self fulfilling descriptions of war as inevitable, morals as convenient struts, a veil of perceptive haze and other such. So I take a leaf out of Virgil’s characterisation and strive to rehabilitate Dido, from her fatal distraction (by the serial deserter, the Trojan Aeneas, through the unfortunate intervention of Cupid and Venus) to reclaiming her wholesome power as the resultant icy volcanics of the innards of the Earth. I also took a bit of liberty with nomenclature here, to epitomise or perhaps embody Dido in Gaia (Her Latin equivalent would be Tellus or Terra, but this Roman goddess sounds a bit marginalised unlike Gaia). I believe, trauma makes us lose personal power in that we volunteer it to a soul lethargy, to life ennui, to the blackout of sadness. Myth-making helps us process turbulence, then again, myth-borrowing (taking Virgil too seriously for example) obstructs self care and self reconstruction. It is important to make our own myths, I believe.
I know it all seems like a convoluted way to arrive at a poem (I should come around to changing its style and structure later, if I feel), but given my habit of circling a mountain before arriving at the top, I should think nothing would trigger fear in the descent then, ha ha 😉
A Levantine Myth
In Parsley, a Levantine munificence accreted together in Tabbouleh, herbage that covers fractured bedrock in a poultice of healing.
Secreted within, lie igneous outpourings of bloodied tomatoes, those solid affections that had welled through an ocean floor
as Neptune quelled Gaia's contractions, her waters seeking to burst beneath the wrinkled surface of a salty sea. She, an underbelly of sky,
pregnant in the overwhelm of magma, sweating out her heart in fire, muted like a moon of Neptune, in his retrograde soliloquies, yet mirroring
hers in icy resurfacings of skin. The God of the Sea, boils an amnion to hazy mists, how deep will his trident plunge to dislodge those Trojan ships
of deceptions ? Yet, Triton blows a conch for Gaia, not for man's duelling and his warring tribes. He soothes her feverish gnashing of thighs
labouring continents. Some fires burn in water, like desultory heartbeats moving the pace of rocks through the ocean floor, spiriting away
to stranger places still, marking maps of memories in the beauty of a stillborn magma. The limestone they say is no blood relation to such
alien fructification, those oceanic intruders, bleeding still, spilling secrets in reds and purples. The acid tears spilled in lemons merely
neutralised in syllables, sedimented to a community of limestone, that possess no archaic remnants reminiscing through dead bones,
an age of glory. Now beauty lies in herbage over once raucous magma and traces of a salty sea, freshness of life trailing her veins, in fragrance of Parsley
This is a bit of a retrograde recipe for Tabbouleh. It consists not of bulgar wheat, but red quinoa. Seasoned simply in lemon juice and salt, as per taste, the way to make flavourful Tabbouleh is to source very fresh herbs. I used flat leaf parsley, coriander leaves and some mint. The diced tomatoes need to be drained and the quinoa cooled before use. Add extra virgin, cold pressed and unfiltered olive oil for salve, so to speak. You can try scooping up the salad with lettuce leaves or finely chop lettuce hearts into the mixture. Add cumin and paprika if you like and spice is the flavour of life. Don't worry about measures and such technicalities, this isn't a mission to Triton 🙂
 Tristan J. Ashcroft, (University at Albany, State University of New York), thesis, Field relations, structural geology, and geochemistry of the Jonestown Volcanic Field ~https://scholarsarchive.library.albany.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=cas_daes_geology_etd