The Critic Writes Poems: Leny M. Strobel
Four Prose Poems by Leny M. Strobel
859 I forgot a girl singing forth her benedictions: May you never grow intimate with cold ashes and burlap. May you never feel tar and black feathers. May you know what I saw through… flames.
I’ve come to believe that everyone on this planet has been infected with the virus of War – those who wage it may have rationalized it but they suffer the most.
Sometimes I feel like an alien. I can’t relate to Hollywood and television, movies, sports, games, etc – it’s not just age – it’s the whole premise behind these.
I feel like the indigenous person brought out of the Amazon to the big city only to exclaim: How can Mother Earth be repaid for all that’s been taken from her to build this?
I feel lost in this mirage.
And yet we still offer benedictions. And we offer a place for friends to commune and enjoy a home cooked meal. To sit around and laugh and to praise and to offer gratitude.
Benedictions for peace, for largeheartedness
For the overcoming of small hurts
For the judgment that is not ours to make
For the choice of releasing anger and worry
For the choice of having Joy as compass (Pat McCabe)
537 I forgot strolling outside to hear trees murmur.
When I decided that I was going to learn what it means to be indigenous I had to get over my prejudice against tree huggers. Stereotype of a white hippie, earth-loving, earth-serving, new ager. I always knew that when I’m critical of something, it’s exactly what is calling me.
So one day as I walked around Spring Lake I decided to hug trees. The redwood is big and solid; with its straight trunk all the way to several hundred feet high, my arms wouldn’t even reach around its girth/width but I lingered and felt the surging of energy. Bussing, tingling, and co-mingling with my own energy. So this is what it feels like to fall in love with a tree!! Then I hugged a second tree – it might have been an oak – I should really find out for sure – this one has a different energy – it was softer, smoother, gentle – I could tell the difference between the two.
Since then I’ve hugged the apricot and apple trees in our garden. I talk to them when I’m sad. Sometimes I would just sit on the ground and my back against her trunk.
Andreas Weber speaks of this biology of enchantment and enlivenment – to begin to understand that all these non-human beings have a desire to be alive and to be in relationship with us; that our own identity is bound up in this reciprocal relationship.
It is real and I am growing this experience day by day.
10 It was a different time. I forgot there is always a different time, even within the span of an hour (or less).
Soon, I’ll be referring to my academic life as belonging to a different time. But if I am to keep asserting that I am not a Time Being…and if I were to not talk about Time at all, what story will I tell?
I keep saying “Flow” these days referring to my experiences/my life as a gentle flow that has been carrying me all along like a river. Yes, I would like to keep this metaphor.
How does a River live her life? Sometimes she fights to breathe as she chokes on the toxic dumping from all sources – industrial wastes, human waste, chemicals…
In other places where she flows away from cities, she may be breathing a bit easier but if the source, like the Himalaya’s melting ice caps, the downstream flow may not be enough to support the spawning of salmon.
I am River, too, flowing downstream. I have held canoes and fishing poles and kayaks and houseboats and rafts made of bamboo held together by rattan.
When Rain falls, the River swells and runs faster and rolls over and tumbles over. There have been times in my life when I felt the same way.
I’ve had dreams of floating down river on the back of a crocodile.
See when I don’t think about Time, when I don’t see thru Time, all these images come visiting wanting to befriend me.
Let the River flow.
583 I forgot eyes widening to pull in more of the world.
But then what do you do when you take in the world and become overwhelmed and discouraged by the anthropocene era and its hubris. Some would say this is part of the process of the cosmos dying, decaying, reborn, recycled, expanding, appearing, disappearing.
We are not used to grieving or witnessing these processes from a post-human, post-activist, new materialist lens. We aren’t used to imagining outside the box perspectives.
This afternoon I watched videos of rich Asians from China spending and buying up Vancouver, Australia – sending daughters to college in the US – going to City College driving Lamborghinis, buying up condos and real estate and locals couldn’t afford to compete.
Chinese capitalists descending on America.
Americans, on the other hand, are leaning to the East via spiritual traditions, Buddhism, Taoism, meditation, qi gong, yoga, acupuncture, Vedanta, kirtans…
I’ve always said this: someday the West will become spiritual and the East will become more materialist.
Either way it will not stop the advance of climate crisis
_________ Author's Note: Each of these were written after a line from Eileen R. Tabios' MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION (MDR). MDR contains a "data base" of 1,167 poetic lines, thus the number to the referenced lines.
Leny M. Strobel also writes essays at https://medium.com/@lenystrobel. About Poetry, she says: I try to live as poetically as I could even though I feel that English fails me in writing poetry. Prose So/I tend/a garden instead.