By the Waters of Babylon, Emma Lazarus, 1887

For the Fourth of July, 2017

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Vast oceanic movements, the flux and reflux of immeasurable tides, oversweep our continent.

From the far Caucasian steppes, from the squalid Ghettos of Europe,

From Odessa and Bucharest, from Kief and Ekaterinoslav,

Hark to the cry of the exiles of Babylon, the voice of Rachel mourning for her children, of Israel lamenting for Zion.

And lo, like a turbid stream, the long-pent flood bursts the dykes of oppression and rushes hitherward.

Unto her ample breast, the generous mother of nations welcomes them.

The herdsman of Canaan and the seed of Jerusalem’s royal shepherd renew their youth amid the pastoral plains of Texas and the golden valleys of the Sierras.

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In the Sierras. Onion Valley, I believe.

 

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(When I was looking for a poem for this holiday, I liked that this one deals with America as mother to refugees, which is both a historical idea and modern controversy. But it’s also personal…my mother’s side of the family came from Ekaterinoslav, as Lazarus describes above).

International Hummus Day

I am not a poet, but on this special day one of my favorite foods needs a poem.

Please indulge me…if not in it 🙂

 

hummus

O hummus, you savory golden mush of chickpea and spice,

You are rooted in the place you were born, yet many cultures now claim you.

Garlic, roasted red pepper, artichoke or Kalamata olive sprinkled with pine nuts

We dip you, spread you, and lick you from a spoon.

Though pita caught you first, vegetables vie for your slather.

And salad leaves long for your touch of oil and tahini.

For me, my morning is happiest when with bagel and hummus, I begin the day.

“Only a night from old to new!”

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South Fortuna, San Diego. Place of peaceful contemplation

 

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I have always felt in my bones the ending of the old year and the expectation of the new. I suppose that my birthday is on January first has something to do with it, because birthdays, too, feel like fresh starts. Though I don’t make resolutions, I do try to look at my life as I ponder what worked this year, what didn’t, what I want less of and what I want more of in the new year.

My neighbor, Ms. Hawk
My neighbor, Ms. Hawk is always inspiring, though somewhat intimidating.

So I will spend this week in thoughtful dialog with myself, finding inspiration and journaling a lot. The week will also include old movies, a bike ride or two and some pie. Mmmm, pie 🙂

I have only been blogging on Relevant Obscurity for a few months, but I have treasured the interactions I have experienced with other bloggers, whose own work I hope carries on throughout the new year.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) is known in California for her novel Ramona, but she was also a prolific writer and advocate for Native American rights. As a poet, she sums up well for me the feelings of this time of the year. Published posthumously in a collection of her poems I hope “A New Year’s Morning” (1892), inspires you as well.

 

Only a night from old to new!
Only a night, and so much wrought!
The Old Year’s heart all weary grew,
But said: “The New Year rest has brought.”
The Old Year’s hopes its heart laid down,
As in a grave; but trusting, said:
“The blossoms of the New Year’s crown
Bloom from the ashes of the dead.”
The Old Year’s heart was full of greed;
With selfishness it longed and ached,
And cried: “I have not half I need.
My thirst is bitter and unslaked.
But to the New Year’s generous hand
All gifts in plenty shall return;
True love it shall understand;
By all my failures it shall learn.
I have been reckless; it shall be
Quiet and calm and pure of life.
I was a slave; it shall go free,
And find sweet peace where I leave strife.”

Only a night from old to new!
Never a night such changes brought.
The Old Year had its work to do;
No New Year miracles are wrought.
Always a night from old to new!
Night and the healing balm of sleep!
Each morn is New Year’s morn come true,
Morn of a festival to keep.
All nights are sacred nights to make
Confession and resolve and prayer;
All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.

 

Helen Hunt Jackson's grave in Colorado Springs, CO
Helen Hunt Jackson’s grave in Colorado Springs, CO

Pierced at the ‘Caw’

I love crows. It is a mystery to me as to why they fascinate me, but I love to watch them and observe their lives. I do not fear them or think them evil, and believe a short freestyle poem on this hallowed day is appropriate!

On this night when the veil between this world and that of the Spirit is thin, may you be touched by the lives of your ancestors and may their memories always live in your hearts. Happy Halloween!

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I love my crows.

They are liquid black beauty.

They strut as they walk, confident.
What do they know?

I am pierced at the ‘caw.’
It makes me pause; I turn my heading looking for something.
Something I know? Something I lost? Something I need? Something….

Catching the eye of a crowcrowmoon
is contact with magic, with Merlin or Diana.
It is a gateway to the Dreamtime, to The Deeps, to the Soul.

On the wing, scratching the ground for food, cawing into the wind, they turn my head, thrill my heart
calling me to the Universe they rule,
where I am my true self living in the magic of the Old Ones.

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