Friday, May 18, 2018

The Lilac Thief

OK, it's that time of year and I'm a sucker for lilacs. I steal them by the armfuls past midnight or in the hours just before dawn when there's no one else around. T Here's a poem I wrote about in 2003 at the height of my prowling for lilacs on other peoples' property or in abandoned places. The particular location that most inspired me was at the edge of Memorial Park in Brattleboro, VT. Eventually the bushes died off but for some years they were a bountiful sources of heirloom deep purple bushes.

The Lilac Thief

This year I looked for lilacs
off the beaten track
in places no longer tended –

A different kind of boundary,
long rows where once houses stood,
lots now empty.

I love the deeper purple of old bushes,
their crushed bloomets falling into my hand
taken from gnarled bark bearing heavy plumage.

I am the local lilac thief,
that one who stops to follow
the scent of unseen blossoms.

Jacqueline Gens

First Lilacs
photo by Jacqueline Gens

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Birthday Poem for Me by Verandah Porche

Jacqueline Gens  on her way 
to milk IO* in the barn at Packers Corner Farm

Jacqueline 1982

Rock walls hold the forest like a cash crop:
...some massive stand of late maturing corn.
A cellar hole, a hearthstone topped with
beaten brick, a spring box like a covered dish:
some raw ingredients of myth. Time is still
the laughing chef. Her favored trick: tectonics.

Six burner blaze on our modern stove.
You whip or simmer with no recipe;
know what to coddle,
when to bruise. Try glacier.
Use avalanche.

Verandah tweaked this older poem circa 1982 (age 32) for my 61st birthday on January 20, 2011, which she posted on Facebook. We lived together for a time at Total Loss Farm AKA Packer Corners Farm in Guilford, Vermont (1976-1982) which she founded in the late 1960s along with friends Raymond Mungo, Marty Jezer, Richard Wizansky among others. Verandah has continued to live on the farm for decades raising her two daughters and scribing her poems.

We met yesterday in Greenfield to discuss details of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Packers Corner Farm. Visit Monteverdi Artists Collaborate here.

Listen to a great VPR interview with Tom Fells originally of Montague Farm and Verandah Porche of Total Loss Farm

PHOTO by Virginia Paige: Jacqueline Gens milking IO, resident Jersey cow (see poem below). Packer Corners Farm, Guilford, VT


Twice, I imagined her name called, once
when my lover came to visit, and then again,
in the root cellar where I strained in the dark
to listen among potatoes and onions.

Twice daily, I called out to her-- I O
toward the back pasture from which she came running
to enter the barn and charge into her stanchen
awaiting hay, and that greater reward, grain.

I squatted on a three-legged stool
tipping forward, my face pressed into her Jersey flank,
right forearm barring her feisty kicks
while I massaged hard udders to let down her milk.

Each time I heard or said her name,
I thought of that other cow driven insane
by furies when thoughts assailed my mind of L.
making me crazy--

Until a tension released itself through her milk’s flow
as I grasped two tits and the warm stream
poured out into the stainless steel bucket
and we both came into Egypt-- I, out of despair.

IO on the run through Monteverdi props,
circa 1978

by Jacqueline Gens
2008 from Primo Pensiero, Shivistan Press

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Some Found Seasonal Ditties/Poems in my Bone Folder

The Telling

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

to 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 parasam gate

Spots of Time stopped for a moment

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

December 5, 2015
Early morning

Into the Light

Slowly the being steps into the light
Herald of greatness to come
Or omens as it moves towards her
"Do not be afraid" it whispers
Terrible to look upon
Even the shwoosh of its wings
Horrible sounding
As the maiden shrinks back
Her belly atremble
Her gaze down cast
to receive its seed

Xmas 2012

Local Man Caught Stealing

from Girl Scout Cookie Jar

What was it he wanted the money for?
.....drugs, baby formula, diabetes test strips
ciggies, booze locked behind glass doors

In the church of stop shopping he wouldn’t need much
just shoes, a new shirt, jeans, underpants, socks

maybe a winter jacket

Friday, December 29, 2017

Coming Soon Year of the Earth Dog

Some of you may have read what I call my annual Losar New Year poems over the past decade. To date I have completed about 15 of these based on real time you can link to below. I am currently working on completing all 60 animal/element combinations and revising what I've already done in collaboration with visionary artist, Ingmar Pema Dechen.  

So far I have completed the following combinations: 

2007 of the Fire Pig
2008 of the Earth Oxen
2009 Year of the Earth Rat
2010 Year of the Metal Tiger
2011 Year of the Metal Rabbit
2012 Year of the Water Dragon
2013 Year of the Water Snake
2014 Year of the Wood Horse
2015 Year of the Wood Sheep

Here is Year of the Fire Bird for 2017

Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen, 2017

Year of the Fire Rooster/Bird

Ever awake among the slumbering
Lively harbinger of whatever awaits
Each day no task too daunting
For just as the sun rises
You’re always ready for any occasion
Reliable, precise, and to the point
No poison too toxic nor lethal
For that bright display which cheers us on
O great Fire Bird who arises from ashes
To transport us beyond our limits
In shining iridescence to meet our purpose
We welcome your daily summons
Into the fray at day’s break

Jacqueline Gens
Tsegyalgar East
Dakini Day, 2.21.17

Please credit Jacqueline and Ingmar if you you forward their image and poem. They are currently collaborating on rendering all sixty animal/element combinations into illustrated/poems. To read more about this project called "The Mansion of Elements" visit here.  There you will also find poems from 2007 to the present. 

Here is The Year of the Fire Monkey for 2016

                                               [Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen, 2016]

Ho you Fire Monkey
Adorable Familiar of blessed places
Resourceful, enchanting
Cunning when need be
Your chatter flattens the dolts of ignorance
When you take
Charge in a carpe diem kind of way
Your ballast of confidence
Lifts our spirits
Seer of the future
Interlocutor to lost opportunities
Let’s take to heart
the ease of your swing from here to there
Always awake in the fire

Needless to say these are not “great" poems but they are interesting. Over the years many people have expressed appreciation. My process is not any official astrological training or reference. Nor do I intend any disrespect to the Tibetan tradition of astrology closely aligned with training in Tibetan Medicine. 

Mainly, I meditate on the animal, then the element which I combine with a kind of intuitive sense of the year at hand. These particular poems seem to write themselves.  The results are strangely in harmony with the “official” forecasts.  They also reflect my own personal mind training at the time. I’d like to compile the complete version of all 60 animal/element combinations as an offering to future communities of practitioners in the Vajrayana and Dzogchen lineages.

They are meant to inspire and encourage people on the long and enduring path towards realization.

My main inspiration comes from my teachers and poetry mentors including Chogyam Trungpa, Choegyal Namkhai Norbu, Lama Tsultrim Allione, Anne Waldman and the late Allen Ginsberg. Many Thanks to  dharma and poet buddies sharing the path. Thanks everyone for all your support over the years.

I am currently focusing on birth poems for friends and personalized poems for hire (by donation.

Here is my most recent addition: Year of the Wood Rooster for 1945, birth year for many poet friends. This one in honor of my friends Anne Waldman, Vernadah Porche and Richard Wizansky.

[original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen]

Such iridescent display
Cockadoodiling us awake
Each day without fail
As reliable as the sun
you rise to summon forth
Bright scrys of portend
Acuity for the larger meanings in the scheme
Of so-called phenomena
Beneficent scribe to the downcast
Outsiders, end stop
You set the bar high
A million hands in the fire
No task too daunting

Harbinger of new, always fresh
Our number one

Jacqueline Gens
Shelburne Falls, MA
Last updated February 5, 2016

The newest composition is a private commission for Year of the Water Tiger with original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen

Behold the Water Tiger
Worldly navigator
Among all things adventurous
At home in the unknown
Buoyed by the ease of water
Even the heaviest notions
Lightly flow by twists and turns
Where no one else dares to go
You are the harbinger of mystery
A playful glint of luminosity
Amid roiling turbulence
Flash of certainty in the deep swell
Of aquifer forever brave
Our Sleek innovator
All accomplishing to the end

Jacqueline Gens

Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Poem for Chogyal Namkhai Norbu on his 80th Birthday

Photo by Jacqueline Gens of CHNNR with Tibetan Singers from Derge, Tsegyalgar East Retreat, 2014

Lord of the three realms
Master of the three series
First there was the sleek black
Waters of incomprehension
Then like the sun at dawn
The light of knowledge
Cast its iridescent
Rays of understanding
I bow to you in reverence
For awakening in me the supreme
Bodhi mind, perfect union
Of intention and application
The Yab/Yum
Of Skillful means and Wisdom

Healing balm amid the ocean of sentient sorrows
That extraordinary panacea
To liberate others
I offer to you my meager body speech and mind
Myriad experience may arise –mere phantoms
In the “One Taste of joy and pain”
Nonetheless, we dwell ever fresh
In the authentic presence of awareness
Igniting the lamp of knowing
Beyond duality because of you

Jacqueline Gens
Tsegyalgar East