Friday, February 05, 2016

To My Mother Olga on Her Birthday

Today is my mother Olga's birthday. My brother Mike posted this lovely photo of her Facebook taken around the time she first arrived in the US in 1948. She was so happy to come to America after the deprivations of living through WWII  in Shanghai, China where she was born to Russian emigre parents. 

I wrote this poem for her one day after picking ramps near Packers Corner Farm in Guilford, VT where I lived at various times.

For Olga Paccidova Shriner (1930-1987)

You don’t see them at first
until you stop and look slowly
at loose leaves of winter debris
scattered across the forest floor.
After awhile, tufts of greenery emerge,
thousands of tender shoots
still too early to pick.
This is the method I learned from Yettie,
a Sephardic Jew from Salonika--
once my neighbor on Packer Corners Road,
To gather morels one year, we sat
on the ground until we noticed our field of vision
shifting to nascent specks of white.
She’s here because of her grandfather’s second sight--
reading in tea leaves that things
were not as they seemed.
They left the dinner table, food half-eaten,
for distant Aegean isles, surviving the war
because of his divinations.

The real miracle year after year
the leeks grow only in this one place.
Each spring, I try to remember
their irony taste drawn from deep soil humus,
decayed pine, juniper, crushed maple leaves,
moss, and rotted wood--
Often, I forget the wild leeks of Keats Brook Road.
I can’t remember how we ended up
in this New England neighborhood—
my mother, Olga (like Yettie), worlds away from her native Shanghai
where bombs fell, first from Japanese then American planes
as she rode her bicycle through the city
to collect bread rations from the Jewish ghetto.
Her heroic stories our dinner table conversation for decades—
We knew that daily ride through fear: sounds, smells,
her chronic hunger, the blown up bits of pregnant women and children.
It’s the shrapnel that kills you, you know, not the bombs.
We allowed her the telling over and over
surrounded by her beloved collection of Americana.
She’s here in the woods now
buried over the hill on Carpenter Road
an early death from cancer at age fifty-eight.
Some years, I do remember the harvest
of wild leeks, their bitter vitality,
my mind a continuity of pungent smells and thoughts
of family, friends, survival, the old world still here
growing up on a hillside in Vermont each year---
regardless if we live or die,
holding forth as though eternal
in a wild assembly of tenderness.

Monday, January 04, 2016

In the Shadow of Cold Mountain Published in Levekunst: The Art of Living

Erik Pema Kunsang and Tara Trinley Wangmo new Ezine Levekunst: The Art of Life published my sequence of poems inspired by Han Shan (Cold Mountain).

Windhorse is the energy of the present moment, which contains this force because it is the only time we can feel basic goodness. —Sakyong Mipham.

When I read these profound words by my first teacher Chögyam Trungpa’s son while in the midst of a winter depression, like a key opening my mind, the following poems poured forth and the fog was lifted. This work is inspired by Hánshān; literally: “Cold Mountain”, fl. 9th century, who was a legendary figure associated with a collection of poems from the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the Taoist and Chan tradition. A thousand years later his poems are as fresh and relevant as though written yesterday. Cold Mountain is neither here nor there but everywhere.

To read more, visit the link above

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Season’s Greetings from Poetrymind

The Coming of Light*

Even this late it happens: the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.*

Dear Friends (known and unknown) and Family, 

Best Wishes for the Holiday and warm wishes for your good health and well-being.  Everyday, I am grateful for the many gestures of kindness and support you all give me.  I offer each one of you my deepest aspiration for your happiness in this time of the rising light and coming New Year

Much Love Jacqueline

Photo Credit: Dharamsala candle by  Rosemary Rawcliff

*Poem by Mark Strand Reprinted from the Academy of American Poets website

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Next Meditation and Poetry Writing Group January 2, 2016 at the Shambhala Center in Shelburne Falls, MA

[from Shambhala Publications website haiku by Santoka]

The topic for our next writing group will be Haibun/Haiku, a traditional Japanese format that is defined usually as a prose poem followed by a Haiku "A haibun is a terse, relatively short prose poem in the haikai style, usually including both lightly humorous and more serious elements. A haibun usually ends with a haiku” [Haiku Society of America]

WHEN: Beginning Saturday, January 2, 2016 (ongoing)
Meeting every first Saturday of the month

TIME: 11:00 AM-2:00 PM

71B Ashfield St
Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts 01370
United States

COST: By donation [Recommended $5-$20.00  per session]

11:00 AM Guided Sitting Meditation
11:30 AM Walking Meditation
11:45 AM  Check-in/where we are with our writing
Noon - 1:00 PM: Brief Presentation by Jacqueline or guest
followed by writing prompt or exercise
Break for Lunch (McKuskers)
1:00-2:00 PM - Share our work

Some Online Resources

PDF Essay : More than Birds, Bees and Trees: A closer look at Haibun

Haiku Society of America for definitions of  traditional forms.

List of American Haiku poets for some inspiration

Reginald Blyth’s 3 Volume Haiku Anthology  check out on

Haiku according to Thich Nat Hahn’s “Interbeing"

Links to Allen Ginsberg Haiku

Robert Hass on You Tube reading from his translations of ISSA

There are many approaches to Haiku you are invited to explore on the internet. 
One need not follow the traditional schemes. I work with the version presented at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics following Chogyam Trungpa’s format and taught widely by Allen Ginsberg.

Recently the Ginsberg Project posted a transcript of one of  Allen’s early classes at Naropa Institute (now University) when Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche visited his class. In this particular class, Trungpa introduces a three part logic to working with language. The Ginsberg Project is a treasure trove of Teachings direct from the horses mouth, as they say!
The notion of what’s called threefold logic - which applies to a general state of mind, how we experience our phenomenal world (and obviously poetry comes from an expression of one’s phenomenal world - in the written form - it could either be prose or poetry form)It’s not so much, from (the) Buddhist point of view, (is that) (if) you write good poetry, particularly, but how your thought-patterns become elegant, that you see (the) phenomenal world as a process, stages, as a review, from a state of mind - That, first, we have what’s known as the ground (which we perceive is the general sense or idea of how things work – like a bright, and heavy, sense of brightness, and then you begin to have some idea that it is sunshine, and then, because there is a sense of brightness, then you experience the sense of sunshine, and having experienced the second stage that way, then we have a conclusion, which is "(it) dispels (the) darkness”. So those (three stages) are what is known as the threefold logic, which actually does apply very much to thehaiku approach – that there is an idea, and then there is a complimentary remark with (the) idea, and then a final ending, (sometimes which is punctuated by humor, or sometimes punctuated by opinion, or (it) could be just an open ending). So that seems to be an interesting kind of training and it seems that's how one thinks when you look at the real world and then just write that down. And then by doing so, a person's approach begins to become very methodical and nothing is jumpy, and everything is somewhat organized in your mind, and therefore it creates a sort of chain-reaction, probably, to the reader of (the) poetry as well, those who read your work, their thought-patterns begin to have some sort of systematic situation rather than just things jumbled together. And , in turn, the theory is that having such (an) approach, you develop a…you’re helping the world to destroy chaos and you create order in the universe.

To read more go here

Thanks to Peter Hale of the Ginsberg blog, you can now read the transcripts of Ginsberg’s course on Meditation and Poetics online--in this instance many classes on Haiku, Ginsberg’s unique style of erudition following his own interests combined with his genius literary mind created some great teaching. 

Here is one transcript on a class in Haiku which relates to the meditation aspect. If you are interested  you can find lots of teaching material. 

For years I lost my Haiku journal but recently found it in storage. Here’s a couple of poems I wrote in Mexico. 

The old man leans against doorway

First rays of sun
Eyes closed, mouth open--still breathing

My favorite:

Little girls chatter  

Waiting for ice-cream
Armed Policia circle Plaza Chica

Three part logic

Line 1 -Ground/Observation
Line 2 -Path/Recognition further extension of original observation or what’s happening
Line 3 -Fruition surprise, twist

The possibilities are endless. My own experience is that Haiku in general is training in perception, unfiltered language which is characterized by a natural  vividness. Recently I have been exploring combining the prose poem followed by a lyric. 

Best Wishes--for the Holiday!!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Meditation and Poetry Writing Group Recap for Saturday December 5

The following meetings will take place each first Saturday of the month at the Shambhala Center in Shelburne Falls, MA 

71B Ashfield St
Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts 01370

Jan 2
Feb 6
Mar 5
Apr 2
May 7

There is currently room for one or two more individuals. In order to facilitate a meaningful amount of time for each person, we are restricting each group to 6-7 individuals. Please contact Jacqueline at or 413-522-1125

Today December 5, 2015 five of us met for discussion and sharing our work. 

Here is Barbara Paparazzo's fine poem for the month : 


We hear Chapel Falls before we see it
a trail in the woods

then snow water
glacier green

red berries
daggar sharp clarity

mosquito larvae in pool
a dead mouse in 2 inches of water

thinking of the immortal Tufu
escaping the An Lu Shan rebellion

on foot with his family
by river and paths

eating berries
to stay alive

arriving starved, exhausted at the house
of his old friend

they share a few poems
the desperation of the times

how words 
come down to us

poems like red berries
to pick and eat

I love this poem for its artful simplicity that creates vivid imagery to arrive at the conclusion that words are sustenance in these desperate times. The reference of Tufu fleeing with his family is particularly poignant given current events. 

We discussed a variety of writers including Gary Snyder’s new book -  This Present Moment, Frank O’Hara’s "To the Harbormaster”, and John Keats’ Negative Capability.  Terry read song lyrics she wrote. Vince read a Haiku like poem from memory. Next month we will focus on Haibun and Haiku. Resources forthcoming.  


Here's a poem I wrote earlier this morning following a day sorting through old family photos. 


Planetary orbits sundry forces pulverize matter down to the minute particles as centrifugal forces gather all to naught sucked into matrix of unbecoming

Stardust breath

Tonight I sort through old family photos for whom there are no heirs. Me at one, two, three and so on, visits with grandma to the San Diego Zoo, Lake Tahoe, in Malibu. Photos make loving memories but generations heaped up gone now ……..gate gate paragate*…Time slip a moment 

All gone into flames into the unknown
As I enter no-name
Once again

December 5, 2015
Early morning

*gone, gone, gone beyond, classic mantra of prajnaparamita