The Hunger Moon. Some poets prefer Snow Moon to better wrap emptiness in a happy blanket but winter before dawn fills love with longing a thousand glassy eyes keep watch, hands open stiffly for promised blessings grayscale earth awaits her blush, desperately grateful to answer their stirring bellies. Hunger is more reliable.
But I want a better name for the opening of fleshy passions the blazing spores of longering days for the fires of fatter mornings, colors of fungal elfen cups impatiently bathing faeries earthen rubies to meet her luny gaze, by virtue of poetic vagrancy, the Sarcoscypha Moon.
However they come to us, the passions and pulses arriving in advance of dawn, our animal selves by virtue of matter and breath feel the weight of being. Sure, you might call it gravity, but an earthbound love makes a better poem. When our rising finds a way into ink or a breathy blessing, when we affirm the creaturely life that binds us to the cosmos, we give our bodies to the making of a morning. No one needs to read your verses or hear your incantation – just offer it up to the day.
That’s what the sparrows do.
Weight of a Winter Poem
The moon in heat plays with mating foxes and when they call it a night she throws cinders mostly ashen juncos flinty titmouses pyrite chickadees and cardinal sparks, finches. Passions fall on this maiden dawn when gravity proves an earthly lust the lyric physics of desire, pinkish lingua on paper in ink, the weight of devotion on snow.
*Photos by Troy Soderberg, February in Saunders County, Nebraska. Prose poem by Jack.
Last Thursday was oddly mild for an Iowa January. When I caught up with some poets in a high ridgetop meadow I found them lying in bluestem and switchgrass in the midmorning sun, reposing in meadow-grasses pupils of the blue. Still a little dozy, we together wove a poem. Bright sun fresh lines warm friends, sometimes winter makes the best day.
– Jack Phillips
*A moment-poem expresses the experience of a single moment in a way that draws us in. The most well-known form is haiku with strict rules in the traditional sense, but for us the honest, bodily, direct and unmediated encounter with a native place is what we’re after. A spontaneous poem becomes part of that place and brings us deeper still; weaving them together binds us to a cosmic community. Photos by Billie Shelton (top) and Katie Sutko Twit, Harrison County, Iowa.
Even on this sharp dawn eleven days into the solar year a thousand eyes shine images, creaturely windows into waking being. We can deny our true bodyselves but here in cold wildnesses not so, stirring earth into bluey-black comes orange her original skin and ours.
Those who live by daylength measure time a little differently – the turn of the Solstice stretches the days and us – but is not every dawn a new awakening? And as it happened our last full moon landed on the Solstice or close enough with the new lunar year landing with her. Whenever it comes to each of us; that is, the feeling of hope and stretch and aborning of something wild and new, we can see the coming days opening before us. And our souls as well.
*Red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) on the eve of Solstice, Washington County, Nebraska by Troy Soderberg. You can find them in the woodlands of western Iowa and eastern Nebraska right now, accompanied by their white-breasted cousins (S. carolinensis). For best results, wear good socks. **January 1st 2022 morning prose poem by Jack.
*Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) in Saunders County, Nebraska just before the Solstice. Photo by Kirby Zicafoose. Lune by Jack Phillips.
A lune? Winter is given to spare poetry and for this haiku is perfect. A lune is an American form of haiku and like other variants, it seeks to express the simplicity of the Japanese form in American idiom. We love to write them. A lune can follow a 5/3/5 pattern or 3/5/3; sometimes words are counted as in the method developed by beat-poet Jack Collom. The original form developed by poet Robert Kelly counts syllables. The wild poets in our coterie are less interested in counting and more concerned with shape and feel — the lines should make a crescent waxing or waning and the arc of the syllables should conform easily with a moonish sigh: oh… see the moon? oo… an owl!
She sows the seeds of self-seeded souls of lives that are lived as given.
*Photos by TNS member Joe Janowski, during his dawn meditation at Glacier Creek Preserve, Douglas County, Nebraska.
**Poem at first light on Thanksgiving Day, 2021 by Jack Phillips. This poem takes the shape of American sentence, a modern form of one-line haiku. If you write a poem at the beginning of the day as many of our members do, the one-line haiku is a simple form that can help us to live the reality of a single moment. The standard conformation comprises 17 syllables, but counting is not as important as creaturely presence. And gratitude.
Listen in close the first note of Mother Tree’s canopy pumpkin burns eyes of sky
gives up beauty a gossamer spring (as sadly hunters knock on heaven) our
feet hold the memory fallen tree holds our bodies warming earth
gives a little more time whilst dancing leaves turn your friends to swaying take
just as long as they do.
* Our exquisite corpse, a collective poem to which each poet blindly contributes a line or phrase following a rule or theme — in this case a Samhain circle in the oak-hickory woods — as we ourselves are wildly drawn together. Photos by Tessa Wedberg and Jack Phillips. Poem by Kara, Barb, Joelle, Billie, Corson, Dana, Laura, Tessa, and Jack.
If you have been just now in the bush you have been seeing more snakes solitary birds now social (and obviously foxes) wee snapping turtles (lately hatched and yet to harden) gatherings of dragonflies to migrate (or just plain hungry) fungi in the throes of day-glow gigantisms and poets having no time for line-breaks or commas. Between the equinox and Samhain (say it: saw-win) is the time of zugunruhe the autumn toddler pitching a tantrum (at bedtime) the season of restive hubbub when October rolls over to steal the blankets a river’s barefoot dreaming (just yesterday) the only tadpoles left are the big ones (ripe hackberries some plums) later dawns and sooner moons of quietly disquieted sauntering letting nature have the last word as always we must, and do.
Better get to it,
Mid-Ocotober zugunruhe in eastern Nebraska. Giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea), black-footed polypore (Polyporous badius), Douglas County; white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Saunders County. Photos by Troy Soderberg.
One normally thinks orange and hickory-butter on backside of equinox and less so blue below the eyelid of sky but one of our bluets (the odonata of autumn) may live a whole lifetime between two moons the sum of all colors come October and finding the unworn light we barefoot the still-warm river, not a bad way to spend most of your mornings or one.
*You might have expected another one but I have to tell you my friends, It really works. Composing a poem feet in the river good boots on the trail makes us slower, quieter. Avoid heavy rhymes and correct punctuation — they make it harder to see and frighten the frogs. (Enallagma civile, photo by Troy Soderberg in autumn, Washington County, Nebraska. Prose poem by Jack Phillips.)
The River Dreams of Nancy* As you slide over these lines dear reader or as they slide over you a fox snake Mintomius vulpinus carries a new memory of skin. This liqueous serpent (the river takes reptilian Mind) slid-slithered over my palms and those of my friends we let our lovely squamate tongue-taste flick and lick surely her first humans an oddly-scented species neither predator nor prey at least not we. One calms a snake with open hands (as one might balance a puppy or pizza) and she being a water-spirit we completed our devotions and slipped her into riverine undulations once more to consider a cricket-frog or wet mouse, unaware of her smooth lingerings I can feel her right now. It was Nancy’s first snake and sweetly so to dream and the river’s first Nancy, tonight.
*What? Another poem? Poetry is that most liqueous way of speaking that tunes us to the creative generativity of the cosmos and is really good for river walking. For best results, remove your shoes. Top: fox snake on the Kickatuus River in late September, photo by Keith Lucas. Bottom: a new hatchling snapping turtle on the Autumnal Equinox. Photo by Cubby Phillips. Prose poem by Jack Phillips (for Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez), published in THE POET (UK), November 2021.