Thursday, June 30, 2005


Strong scented with bitter
Undercoatings covering
My now warm tongue
My mind slowly wakens

The scent draws me
Inhaling deeply into my belly
Inviting memories of years
Upon years ago

Dream like
I take another sipOf Coffee

Where Have All The Butterflies Gone?

I can't remember if this has been on this Blog or not. However, in keeping with the theme that seems to have emerged ~ I hereby wonder: where have all the butterflies gone?

Where have the butterflies gone?
Were they spun off into tomorrow?
Were they swallowed by the dawn,
As the sky turned bright and yellow?
Were they lost behind a cloud?
Were they called to dress the dead?
A quivering, golden, shroud,
Sewn of gilded, fragile thread.
Were they just too much of a cliché,
Too happy, bright and brief,
Dissolved into the salt sea spray
A platitude of blissed relief?
Did they all go out against the moon
With a spatting, sizzling sound?
Were they gathered in a word balloon?
Were they found to be profound?
Did the faeries just flat wear them out
In a rodeo of wings?
Were they supped up by a hungry trout
Whose belly now flutters and sings?
Where have the butterflies disappeared?
Did you even know they were gone?
Or is it just as I always feared . . .
You greet this news with a yawn
“What use were butterflies anyway?
Just a vaporous moment of wings
So the world’s grown a little more grey . . .
One becomes accustomed to things”

©Edwina Peterson Cross

Were they just too much of a cliché,
Too happy, bright and brief,
Dissolved into the salt sea spray
A platitude of blissed relief?
Did they all go out against the moon
With a spatting, sizzling sound?

Were they gathered in a word balloon?
Were they found to be profound?

Did the faeries just flat wear them out
In a rodeo of wings?

Were they supped up by a hungry trout
Whose belly now flutters and sings?


I am fond of Harry Chapin songs,
so copied this poem a couple of years ago,
just in case there was a place for it.


By Harry Chapin

One eye, lizard-like, opens on my pillow.
My dreams demand some sustenance from this encroaching day.
I close again for one last view of where I've been.
My hackles rise in terror at images of razor claws.
I sharpen my fangs.

My alarm clock's timid fanfare
draws me to its blunted blades tracing placid circles.
My feet find the floor.
I gird myself with cotton, strap on ballpoint swords
swagger forth to search the streets for concrete lists
reverberating with chimes of metal and savage duels.
But all the lions are gone.

I stride into arenas, legs spread, eyes ready
to be slaked by rosy rivulets.
But there are no torn and blood-enobled dead,
made victors with their vanquishing.
There is only muffled swishing.
Park benches hold casualties of silent wars,
each one found too proud or weak
to swing against a fluttering mark.
No chance for decent burial.
They lug their own sarcophagi.

Still I, a virgin warrior
who dreams of bright medallions
must battle with the butterflies,
or else be bleached and broken
by pale and stealthy powdered wings.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Butterfly dreams

Time has slipped by
on velvet feet
so I did not hear it go.
Now I find myself,
In some sort of limbo.

between youth and wisdom
between child and mother
between intention and action
between the question
and the answer.
with bated breath.

At first this place alarmed me
with it's lack of sure footholds
And overwhelmed me
with too much choice
and even scared me
with it's endless directions
And I caused myself pain
in this great cavern of possibilities
trying to hold on to the walls
to hold on to the known.

But now,
I am happy here.
I let go of the wall
and let go of my fear
and as I fell I found faith
and it lifted me up.
Drowned me in every tear
I've ever cried or caused
and washed my soul clean.

Now, without the weight
of guilt, shame or pain
I find I can float
in my limbo
amongst my dreams.
Chasing them like butterflies
and laughing when they flit away.
For they're not meant to be caught
they stay just out of reach
hovering and dodging.
Because to catch one and contain it
would be to kill it
as surely as caging a beautiful bird
will break it's soul.

So I watch them and play.
And sing and laugh.
Chasing them's a game played for the joy of it
not to win,
because it never ends.

They are my dreams disguised as butterflies
and they are just as they should be.
As am I.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005



Greycloak’s poem brought Stonehenge back to me. I have been told by so many people that they were disappointed in Stonehenge, that they felt nothing there, were not impressed and thought the long drive out onto the Salisbury plain a waste of time. My experience was very different. Stonehenge was not what I expected, but it was an experience I will never forget, one that changed me forever.

Walking at Stonehenge

I walk today where I have wished my entire life to walk. I come here in my fiftieth turning, at the cusp of Aries and Taurus. I do not find here what I expected. Not at all.

I expected power. I expected to feel something akin to the spirit medicine I have felt in a younger, wilder land; power that hurls down narrow canyons on sage brush wind; an earth force that pulls the lightening from the sky, energy beating the air; thunder in the ground. No. Not at all. That kind of raw power is not what I find in these great stones, nor in the earth that cradles them. The ground here is silent . . . yet it sings. The air is silent and hugely hollow, yet it is full of massive memory and replete with forever. The only sound is the worshipful piping of the birds. There is power here; vast, deep, immense, but it is not as I thought it would be.

This is the power of endurance, of long remembrance, of sacredness undiminished by time or circumstance. The stones stood. The stones fell. The ground remains sacred; a sanctity of depth and time I have never felt anywhere before.

I knew the stones would be roped off and thought I would not be able to even come close, but the path passes very near; near enough that I can feel the power of the stones in wide waves that sing through my body and radiate under my feet. I hold both hands out open. I am glad the stones are roped off, empty in the hushed hollow air.

Between the stones, I see only grass and birds; the air, the rolling grey sky. Then suddenly in the narrow opening between two stones, I see horns; the perfectly formed figure of a stag - on two legs. Is it only a tree? Only a tree? What folly of words is that? It is The Wood. I turn in a wide circle, gazing at the fringe of woodland that still circles here. It has been cut, it has been pushed back, it has been cultivated, shaped; theoretically tamed, but like much else, it is still here. They are still here. I incline my head to the figure framed between the stones. I am deeply glad.

So I close my eyes, then bring them slowly, barely open; there, through my lashes, I see crowds of ghosts, weaving in and out; in procession, in dance, in worship, in celebration; they spill like sand through hundreds of years. In the watery sunshine of this clear grey day, I see them dancing in the moonlight, chanting at the dark of the moon, still as the stones themselves as the sharp bright arrow of yet another Solstice dawn pierces the end of night.

The ghosts of the past melt one by one, until none are left and it is only me, standing alone with the tall, silent stones, the grass, the birds, the air, the sky, and the vast flowing waves of sacred power. My body is not alone, the world’s winds blow my skirt in spinning spirals and gust over my husband, gathering the silent stones into his camera for me to keep; he has brought me here. The world’s wind catches in my daughter’s fiery hair; the child of my body who understands the composition of my heart; she has opened this gateway, made this possible. She reaches out to hold my empty corporal hand. There are others walking the wide circle around the stones; people whose voices have become hushed, stilled; who walk slowly, aim cameras and gaze.

But the spirit wind cresting the wide green hill finds me standing quite alone, above the singing ground, beneath the wide grey sky. These stones spoke to me as a child; I heard them call from across the sea when I was very small; on a page cut from National Geographic they looked down from above my bed, whispering. Here in a stillness of green and grey is a dream - the dream of a gold eyed child; a child who sought mystery, who hungered for magic. I have come fifty years and across the sea to find that the mystical enchantment is something I understand to the center of my bones.

I feel the power. I have come in need. I ask without even forming words.

The world’s wind ruffles my hair; my husband and daughter have moved on and I stand here, in both worlds, alone. Alone where I was meant to come; and the spirit wind blows cleanly through me and leaves me clear.

Clear. Straight. Strong. Alone. Exalting.

And then I walk on.

I walk and walk and I keep walking.

©Edwina Peterson Cross
April 2004

Stones and Wood

I have walked in an land ancient with shadows
Green with magic, wreathed with mist
I have laid my hands to the stones of forever
Where the power of endurance exists

I have walked in the steps of the masters
Stood where they stood, seen what they saw
I have walked in a world that is thick with ghosts
I have felt them with reverence and awe

I have walked in a land that has long been tamed
Each hedgerow and field and tree
I’ve come home to a land that is wide and wild
Vast forests of green flowing free

So young, so wild, untouched, untamed
These titanic trees so bold
I love the stones, I love the wood
The new world, and the old

©Edwina Peterson Cross
April, 2004

Mommy's Son

My Mother has been the cause and inspiration of many of my writings.
For her last birthday my niece solicited stories and poems about her
to include in a large scrapbook affair. I had 17 pieces to contribute
to blend with about 80 more from my 6 siblings and 12 grandchildren.
This was original for the book.



It is easy to remember -- to be again -- know my mother;

as a mother -- close by
tears -- hope -- a message gentle,

as a friend -- now medium far
quiet chats -- faith reborn -- she listens still.

as a person -- there's the wonder
still a girl -- hummm…

I can reconstruct the moment -- beyond recalling,
more than a childish whim or mem'ried diffusion
of jumbled thoughts and storybook illusions --
I was there, after all.

Lake Tahoe -- summer days -- 1953;
wood cabins -- jays and chipmunks,
Mt. Talac snow cross -- stories on the beach,
three kids -- one mom -- wait an hour,
don't run -- water clear -- so clear,
sigh! Mother was just there --
which was right.

Morning walks up the mountains -- often;
old deep trails -- new long needled pathways,
giant granite boulders -- hidden springs,
flickering sunlight -- swaying ferns,
just fun and play and toss and tumble --
then I noticed her -- the girl.

She sat atop a rock alone -- content that we were safe;
hair let down -- the brush was there beside'
shorts -- blouse ends tied across her waist,
sandals tossed aside -- one slipping to the ground,
humming -- no singing low -- Steven Foster --
she was doing her nails.

For the first time I saw her as a person;
not a mother or a woman or a teacher or --
where had she been -- why hadn't I seen,
this young person alive -- dreaming -- just there,
content to be just a person -- just once again,
but still only my mother.

Mommy's Girl

A reflection of Lisa’s poem “Daddy’s Girl.” I can’t speak for Daddy’s - I’ve never been one. My thought is that the outcome is probably very similar. I answer that thought, from where I live:

Mommy’s Angel Girl
And this world weary woman
Are one in the same
A flawed and precious human

I have always known
Through the calm and through the storm
That, ever changing
You would transpose and transform

I’ll give you this truth
You’re so much more than an ideal
Nothing you could do
Would change the way that I feel

As you alter, grow
A spirit transitional
Always remember:
This love is unconditional

Let me dry your tears
And we’ll wash your dress and face
Come and rest your head
In this soft and warm embrace

I was once young too
And I wasn’t always smart
I stumbled and fell
And my mistakes broke my heart

But I have learned much
On the road to being ‘mother’
I forgave myself
Now we’ll forgive each other

We can mend your wings
Replace each broken feather
There’s nothing at all
That we can’t do together

I don’t know everything
But I know this much is true
Nothing on this earth’s
As strong as my love for you

©Edwina Peterson Cross




Welcome to all the new LivePoets . . . in the last few days we have been joined by Chris, Greycloak, Anna, Lisa and Dilyn.

It is fantastic to see you contributing right away! Our nurturing, verdant oasis becomes richer and deeper as more fellow wanderers, wonderers, come to share words. The collection we are building here is already beyond stunning, and getting more incredible all the time. Keep posting this marvelous diverse, unique and beautiful work. Those of you who haven’t posted for awhile, please jump in as well. There is no right or wrong with poetry, only is or is-not. Let us continue to manifest being, existence, reality . . . the ‘is” of poetry.

Love and thanks to all,
~ Winnie


I look at my body
naked in the mirror
steamed after showering
blessed filter of vision!

mirror imaging.....
right is left and left is right
I look lovely (to myself) from all angles
and I'm soft

I'll not mourn the loss of once enviable breasts
they've just moved a bit, is all
gently persuaded by gravity
to change location

I wonder if the reason
I'm so comfortable in my skin
is because it's grown looser
by design of time.. and nature?

The Flicker

For my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's.

From blue windows of your soul
I am reminded of heaven's gates
Where angels await
And though your spark dies hard
The blood that binds us
Boils harder
For love is thicker than fire.

(c)--Christina Cowling

Monday, June 27, 2005

Those Who Seek

A wanderer on a long and lonely path,
Breaking new trails,
Leading the way into the unknown,
Possessed by purpose,
Guided by fate,
Seeking the truth.

A gathering at Stonehenge,
Druids gather round,
To delve into the mysterious,
To speak with the ancients,
Bound by purpose,
Seeking the truth.

A witch in her house,
Bent over a cauldron,
Watching as it smokes and bubbles,
Stirring with long spoon,
Wondering at fate,
Seeking the truth.

A wizard in his tower,
Gazes into a crystal ball,
Searching its depths fer answers,
Lifting the veil of fog that covers his sight,
Guided by wisdom and insight,
Seeking the truth.

Truth be a funny thing,
It may not be what ye seek.
A riddle to some,
Unacceptable to others,
Only yields itself up to those,
Seeking the truth.


Well met

*looks around* Ish anybody home?

I haven't thought up a fancy introduction yet *chuckles*, school is demanding, but I'll come up with something. Suffice it to say that I spin wild threads of story and poetry that come together into something resembling those two things. Hello to all and thankee for the invite.

Tribal Memory

As I sit by my newly created pools, flume and water fall -- just listening to the tinkling waters of the eversong -- I am drawn to remember other pools -- other magical water kisses in my life.

This is quite special...



Many years ago I had an opportunity to do work on an Indian Reservation in Nevada, mostly related to setting up a photo lab in conjunction with their tribal history training. It was a small location, perhaps 90 members eking out a meager existence from withered crops, scrawny cattle and minimum water resources. I shared their community/family embrace for three days. It changed my life.

Several 'anomalies' immediately came to the fore; differences between their attitude toward life, strangers and spirituality from what I had known before. There were no fences -- anywhere. Their language had no pronoun "I", except in secret spiritual rites. Children were raised by the entire community and were identified by 'pet names' taken from nature. I was called 'Wa Nee Poto' -- "one who lives in a horse", since I came in a small motor-home. I camped next to an incredibly beautiful 'Morning Glory' natural hot-spring pool. There I could enjoy a late-night 'dip' and watch the sun rise through fragrant mists and chirp of hidden birds. Ah-yes! I also watched as family groups came down to the pool in the evening, reserved at first, but not wary. I was amazed how the children acted -- absolute obedience! A year old child could be left near the bank clutching a root -- completely safe because it would never leave until told. The baby could swim, I was to learn -- underwater and on its back -- like a fish. I ate and read in silence -- except to whistle as always. They watched, as did I.

On the second day an old man came -- no title or special dress. He feigned interest in my 'horse' and talked of the lack of rain that spring. I had been raised right. I hunkered down and picked up a fistful of dirt -- smelled it -- breathed deeply -- poured it onto the ground, and brushed it smooth with a twig. He told me about the fences -- how they believed that it was allowed to create temporary enclosures in order to protect things within -- new crops, cattle and possibly ill persons. However, nothing was ever fenced out! It was not their land, after all -- nor did they own the animals or plants -- they simply shared an existence and 'brightness'. 'City-folk' often came to picnic there and left trash -- they did not complain. A puma might steal a cow -- they never hunted it. A lightning storm might fire the slope -- they danced in the rain. And in everything, the family stood together, even in speech, as 'we' was their only form of speech. Then the 'chief/shaman?' picked up a pebble from near the pool and placed it on the cleared spot by my feet, Then he took another from his pouch and placed it beside the first. When I looked up he was gone!

The children came then. I taught them games from my youth -- told them stories -- learned a new form of 'tag'. On the last day every able bodied person in the tribe went on a round-up. I could not ride well because of my broken back, and was gifted to watch the children -- and the water gates. Moveable wooden platforms needed to be shifted in order to divert the meager stream into irrigation channels. I was given no instruction -- just followed my instincts -- knowing that I (we?) could make no mistake. I taught the children how to make 'heart baskets'; fragile grass nets that one would place over their heart and then give to another. When it later dried it would be thrown into an evening fire -- this a legacy from my Algonquin ancestry. I took away much more from this 'family'.

They asked and learned nothing of my religion, politics or attitudes about the 'outside' world. This was more than 30 years ago. I could go back today and give them my departing ritual name -- 'No Clee Washa'. A story would be told and I would be accepted -- even if no one of my friends is still alive -- such is the value of verbal tribal history! They build no fences -- base all of their judgments of another on observed actions and kindness. They exclude no one from their lives and fellowship. A friend is not forever -- (no word for that either) -- there is only 'we'. I heard a lot of laughter -- never saw a tear.

A month later I built a fire and sent twenty 'basket prayers' into the night air. The only chant I knew to say was to repeat my tribal name --
'Singing Grass Child'.

Daddy's Girl

Okay, so I'll post something of mine here. In keeping with both the long-winded and parent theme, this is something I wrote several years ago.

Daddy's Girl

So where's your little girl now, daddy?
So innocent and sweet,
she's fallen off her pedestal
now she lies at your feet.

Sometimes it's hard to believe, anybody could know.
Sometimes it's hard to understand, why you'd love me so.
So where's your little girl now, daddy?
She's hiding away.
It all gets too much sometimes
She can't face the world today.

And I guess in a way, we choose our own pain.
Choose our own punishment, choose our own shame.
So where's your little girl now, daddy?
Are you sure she's alright?
Are you certain she's happy and not
alone and crying tonight?

See, daddys drunk angel has fallen from grace
Lastnights make-up, still smudged on her face
Her wings are torn, her dress is soiled
Her innocence corrupted, her virtue spoiled.
Her halo is lost and she can't find another
Seems she left it on the bedpost of lastnights lover.
So where's your little girl now, daddy?
Tell me, do you know?
Where she is now? Where'd she go?

I've been in some dark places, but I can't share my pain.
I simply can't justify, the mistakes I've made.
So where's your little girl now, daddy?
Your bright, shining sun?
Would you still love her now if you knew
all the bad things she's done?

You've always put me, far before yourself
Only wanted whats best, but sometimes, I chose less for myself.
So where's your little girl now, daddy?
Somewhere out in the world?
Would you even recognise her now?
is she even the same girl?

See, daddys sweet angel, is gone without a trace.
This world-weary woman, stands in her place.
Her broken heart in her hands, she can't meet your eyes.
Too afraid to tell the truth, but so sick of lies.
Because, you didn't see her when it all came crashing down.
No you didn't see her trying, to pick herself up off the ground.
So where's your little girl now, daddy?
Tell me, do you know?
Where she is now daddy?
Tell me, where'd she go?

Daddy's sweet angel
Daddy's sweet angel
Daddy's drunk angel
Daddy's sweet girl.

So where's your little girl now, daddy?
Please, reassure her
That you'll keep her safe and she'll always be
Daddy's girl.


The toffee broke from my root my tooth.

Sugar seeped through my gums.

<>My blood swam with insulin.

The moments clogged with energy

<>as I swore at the tooth,

at the annoying root

but not at the toffee.

Frozen I could not sip

on hot or cold

nor munch or crunch

until thawed, I ate everything

at the banquet for gluttons,

even more toffee.

(c)--Christina Cowling

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Little Irish Mother

Hi all,

I have just recieved the invite from Winnie :) I thought I'd post one of my favourite poems before I post any of my own. It's an old Australian bush poem called The Little Irish Mother, by John O'Brien. When one of my grandparents passed, I found an old old book of poetry called "Around The Boree Log" with this poem in it - after reading it hundreds of times it still sends shivers up my spine and brings tears to my eyes. The imagery it educes of such a simple, yet beautiful story just amazes me. It's quite long, but well worth the read. I hope you like it :)




Have you seen the tidy cottage in the straggling, dusty street,
Where the roses swing their censers by the door?
Have you heard the happy prattle and the tramp of tiny feet
As the sturdy youngsters romp around the floor?
Did you wonder why the wiree comes to sing his sweetest song?
Did the subtle charm of home upon you fall?
Did you puzzle why it haunted you the while you passed along? -
There's a Little Irish Mother there; that's all.

When you watched the children toiling at their lessons in the school,
Did you pick a winsome girleen from the rest,
With her wealth of curl a-cluster as she smiled upon the stool,
In a simple Monday-morning neatness dressed?
Did you mark the manly bearing of a healthy-hearted boy
As he stood erect his well-conned task to tell?
Did you revel in the freshness with a pulse of wholesome joy? -
There's a Little Irish Mother there as well.

There's a Little Irish Mother that a lonely vigil keeps
In the settler's hut where seldom stranger comes,
Watching by the home-made cradle where one more Australian sleeps
While the breezes whisper weird things to the gums,
Where the settlers battle gamely, beaten down to rise again,
And the brave bush wives the toil and silence share,
Where the nation is a-building in the hearts of splendid men -
There's a Little Irish Mother always there.

There's a Little Irish Mother - and her head is bowed and gray.
And she's lonesome when the evening shadows fall;
Near the fire she "do be thinkin'," all the "childer" are away,
And their silent pictures watch her from the wall.
For the world has claimed them from her; they are men and women now,
In their thinning hair the tell-tale silver gleams;
But she runs her fingers, dozing, o'er a tousled baby brow -
It is "little Con" or "Bridgie" in her dreams.

There's a Little Irish Mother sleeping softly now at last
Where the tangled grass is creeping all around;
And the shades of unsung heroes troop about her from the past
While the moonlights scatters diamonds on the mound.
And a good Australian's toiling in the world of busy men
Where the strife and sordid grinding cramp and kill;
But his eyes are sometimes misted, and his heart grows brave again -
She's the Little Irish Mother to him still.

When at last the books are balanced in the settling-up to be,
And our idols on the rubbish-heap are hurled,
Then the judge shall call to honour - not the "stars," it seems to me,
Who have posed behind the footlights of the world;
But the king shall doff his purple, and the queen lay by her crown,
And the great ones of the earth shall stand aside
While a Little Irish Mother in her tattered, faded gown
Shall receive the crown too long to her denied.

Love Has No Substitute

And when I drew back from his table
It was not because the food was unattractive
But because the cracked china grew unfamiliar
When he looked at it and said
"You can always be replaced."

(c)--Christina Cowling


Created to thirst for knowledge

Should we drink from different waters

It is not always by choice

But by circumstance

And thus become libraries

Where we try to read

Each other.

©--Christina Cowling

Ravishing Fingers

The impoverished come

To the shelter for food

And when it is sparse

It is not unacceptable

Amongst them

To share from one loaf

For I have watched this.

Some say,

“They must pull back from the table

Because they have not laboured.”

Perhaps this is truth

But alive in the moment

I ask,

“What harder labour

Than to pluck pieces of bread

From a loaf

Full of ravishing fingers?”

©--Christina Cowling

Always Hungry

I tend to devour literary inspiriation
from many sources and languages --
the Bible included. Beyond any
spiritual messages that carress your
particular choice of reverence,
I am intrigued by what tales are told --
and pine for those never included
by man's hand.

This was written for a Retreat of Passionate Priests,
gather to discuss new homily threads.
The mith and frowns were equally divided.

Eat These Words

I am drawn by the words of our blessed Saint Paul of the Cross, "If your spirit resonates with the written Word, all is well." So simple. Stand away you who would say, "Only by these words …" Listen close you who would say, "The Bible is the only and last Word …" What arrogance to limit God to a few phrases mistranslated into English from the Greek, and limited even there by human error in verbal repetition of impassioned story. Divinely inspired Words? Certainly. Where are the rest of the Words? Am I to believe that the sacred writings in today's imprimatur are the limitations of what was witnessed thousands of years ago?

One should ask, "Why is it that of all the interactions between God and man, these few stories survived?"

I once heard it said, "Isn't amazing that the Bible has so many analogies about food?" One might just as well ask, "Isn't it amazing that a bowling ball has three holes that fit the fingers?" It is not that the important stories were about food, it is that the stories about food survived. It was at mealtime that stories were told! Content men with full stomachs remember stories. Hungry men do not pay attention! Starving men do not pass on stories!

Can anyone seriously think that it was just chance that our Lord selected bread and wine - food- as the symbols of his link to our salvation? They weren't divine and he gave them to us. He made them divine by his choice. Were they just conveniently at hand at the Last Supper, so He made do? No! He selected a joined, community meal as the place to give his divine directions. He linked it with food so that we would never forget! Break bread with me, my friends.

We ask blessing (sometimes) at meals. It is called grace. Are we really asking for the food to be blessed? Come on! The food is already blessed, either because the grain came from God's hand, or further blessed by man's honest labor. We are asking that we be blessed, in remembrance of that special meal. Every meal becomes a Mass of sorts, if we ask our Lord to join us. He is there anyway, but it is proper to ask our friend in. "Take off your sandals, sit a spell and rest, you are with friends." The grace comes from our effort to remember -- not from the food. Our faith doesn't come from the Word either. Our closeness to Jesus comes from acting in accordance with those Words, and others that we hear in private prayer. Heresy, no?

Each of us hears words in our hearts that go beyond those written Words. When others use those Words to suppress or deny or punish -- we are free to act on our own blessed Words -- those that truly "resonate with the spirit as expressed in the written Words." More than free, I think. We are called to build upon those Words until our daily actions are a shining light to others as example of the Word. Welcome friend, whoever you are.

Well, I wasn't struck dead while writing these words here. Thank you Saint Paul.

I may have to eat my words some day.

That will be OK too.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

I have set the table
with the milk of a pure goat
that grazes only in Alp pastures.
I have primed the Prairie pump
then poured cool water
into ice-packed tumblers.
My knuckles are stiff
from kneading dough
and my fingertips blistered
from baking over hot coals.
I have ironed my finest linen
and plucked wild roses
from their thorns
to decorate where you sit grumbling
without giving thanks
yet somehow this amuses me.

©--Christina Cowling

When I was Hungry

Please Note: I respect all beliefs and religions. I am presently working on a new poetry book titled "Tree of Knowledge" it comes from my own spirituality and not intended to offend anyone for each finds satisfaction in their beliefs.

When my hungry soul was fed
I knew I'd been graced
By a new belief
And if this had not been so
I would have struggled
To believe otherwise.

(c)--Christina Cowling


Another variation on the theme of life, sharing and . . . communion. This is the tradition of blessing a new house with bread, wine and salt. Bread is presented to the home’s new owners, in the hope that within their walls hunger will never be known. Wine is gifted that joy and comfort may forever reign. The salt is thrown across the threshold as a blessing that life might always have flavor.

This is the second of two House Blessings I did for Vi. The first was for a house on the coast of Oregon, this second one for a home in the desert.

Desert House Blessing

Blank walls, open door
Spread the blessings across the floor

Bread upon the hearth, that hunger be unknown
That life be full of flavor, salt across the threshold thrown

Wine, that joy and comfort may forever reign
Happiness and glad delight begin the blessing chain
Whispered dance of desert wind, the grace of precious rain
And every drop of inner light one dwelling can contain

Now draw the circle, mark the ways
Beneath the Ladies lucent rays

Walk the wheel, trace it’s sphere
And hear Her glad words singing clear:

Turn north for counsel wise and true
East your challenges to pursue
South reminds where trust is due
West will bring your truth to you

In this land of endless sky
Grace and love will multiply

Blessings from the mountains pour
Hearts come full circle, home once more

Blessings on the sweet dry air
Bless these walls with moondeep prayer
Bless these books, this plant, this chair
Bless this home; for love is there

(With Love, For Vi)

© Edwina Peterson Cross
December 2003

The Piper's Meal

The custom of sharing bread, water and salt
is ancient, and certainly predates
modern religious uses -- especially when
offered to a stranger ..


We make things to complicated by far, methinks;
what with Mass being a large affair in ceremony --
silken garb, golden cup, starched linen and all.
Does all of this add anything to the miracle;
transformed image, substance and memory of Him?

As I browse scripture and mystic verse and song,
I fail to find any need for church or even priest.
What happened to the claim of divine presence
when two or more are gathered in Love's name?

Most surely, if you and I should meet to embrace
the Passion and find rebirth of spirit and faith,
then we are certainly bound three in Eucharist,
or sharing most natural under diff'rent name.

This may be too grand a leap for some -- even me;
but when next I offer a simple crust of bread
to a homeless stranger, lost child or bosom friend
and receive a sip of clear water in return,
I will know that the Light is there with us and all.

Ah then, perhaps I should 'commune' with someone soon.

How about today?

Piper Play On

Piper Play On

I come here for clearing
Piper Play on . . .
Wash away the remains of what has gone wrong
Scrub off clinging patches of dried, crusted dirt
Scour out bitter relics of old, festered hurt
Here in the golden throat of your song
Is a note that is sweet, echoed and strong
I will learn of it’s hope, wash away past despair
Until I’m a hollow bowl waiting for prayer
Waiting to be filled with an inspired wine
Nature’s ambrosia, gift of the Divine
Like your song, I’ll come hollow, and wait to be filled
I’ll be the clay where creation will build

I will be the bare canvas
Where the joy dance is drawn
Piper play on . . .
Piper play on . . .

©Edwina Peterson Cross


Today I shall fast
But not for long
And when I am through
I shall sip wine from a fine goblet
And pick at my food
As would a nervous bride
At her wedding,
For my body empty
My spirit has been renewed
And I must feast carefully
In order to honour
Life's balance,
Life's blessings.

(c)--Christina Cowling

By Faith Alone

From the tree of knowledge

The serpent offered me fruit

I chose

Then walked away

Not with an apple

But faith—

The choicest.

Friday, June 24, 2005


I have picked up the pieces
I have sat over them.
Like a forensic expert,
I have studied them.
I have learned to let go
And accept with open arms
Only that which returns to me.
I am sound.
I am without malice.

(c)--Christina Cowling

Gently Surprised

Now I see everything
I could not see before
And am gently surprised
At you,
At me
But not at my stumbling.

(c)--Christina Cowling

Haiga To a Carmichael Sky

Frozen Spring

This thought from Chris
caused me to plunge into the archives ...


I think the ice crystals shriek as they force climb the rocky face where yesterday we sought out tiny patterns of mottled hue and quartzine ridge.

I sense the frozen laughter of children splashing in the pool here where now even my distorted reflection is still half locked in summer mist.

I see there in barren bush the frozen tears of lovers on the bench and hear a silent call to join there in the snow and sweep away the trembling fears.

Yet I crouch here instead by choice with rocks hard and sharp that cut my knees and cramp my weary aging joints so that I may never rise again.

I do this for the miracle, my friend, that I know will surely move within this frozen glade where imagined death is close at hand and palpable.

Even now I hear the pulsing sob of the waterfall as its tinkling nature is silenced into an icy fist of protesting will for demanding life.

Now in the balance, at that brief point where life's willful protest is cold stilled with the approaching night, there is trembling vibrant peace.

The single, tiny branch trembles in anticipation and the heat and light of my simple presence is enough to thaw a single, yearning drop of life.

It flows slowly down the blackened branch to hang in suspenseful vibration of indecision - do you hear it? Hear it cry in joy and fear and hope?

It drops - spinning - a perfect sphere of pure light, and birth and doubtful freedom. Hear it sing - sing? Crystal chimes and echoed dreams?

It is frozen still again even as it touches down on the waiting glittering pool of mocking black pebbles and shattered ice-bound summer's fronds.

Did you hear it? At that moment where transitory life surrendered to cold silence with sure knowledge of what we fools dare call defeat?

It is worth the wait here in the snow and chilling wind and hard fought silence of the night to hear the lasting sigh - Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!


Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm in!

Hi Winnie and one and all! I've been away from these halls, just started another of my creative writing workshop series and my latest group of writers is just spectacular as all that came before. We write together, including yours truly, of course -- wouldn't have it any other way. And it gives courage to my writing group members to see their "teacher" write with them and read brand-new writing. It is a mind-bending experience!

I'm grateful to be able to share.

Waiting for Spring

Frozen ground,
frozen heart –
The two are the same in the dead of February.
Blue cold,
black heart, and
no sign of solstice through the steely tentacles of sleeping trees.

It is high noon, but
the sun drags
on the edge of the world.
And a woman’s heart sinks just as low
when she hears the
hollow voice
in her head, spinning
round and round and round,
the needle stuck on one verb – run.

And her heart is so cold, it
recognizes its own breath.
The tracks in the snow outside
remind her of something –
a trip she needs to take.
But first,
will someone please strike a match?

Anna Chinappi 2005

RE: I see me

Okay, I see me now, now you won't get rid of me:>)
Here is one of my poems: Winnie has already read it as she has many of my poems. She is a great inspiration to me as I know she is to many of you and you to her, so here we go!


When I cling to the known
Sure that it has kept me sane
In my wanderings and wonderings
The truth tells me
My lie is weaker
Than the final breath in death
That serves no chance for change.

(c)--Christina Cowling

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy! Am I here, I saw my comment but not my message???? I'm going to have to take a Blogging course:>) Anyway, I'm pressing publish and post, is that right, correct???
Chris again

Hi Winie and Live Poets

Hi everyone, Winnie has invited me here I will post some of my poetry as soon as I know for sure you are receiving this. Warmly, Chris

Well then -- something different


Perhaps I came early,
but I know never late.
I spent a day or two
or maybe more --
can there be less?

He came from the forest, as I knew he should
and followed a path never defined or set,
but so sure and pure that the grass did part
before the fondling spirit of evening dew.

He wore the plain blanket like a cloak of morn
that he twirled out to a chance settled dream.
Its colors and patterns befuddled the eye,
but its soft song stung my old yearning soul.

Holes and loose threads and fain payers undone,
but spun in a web of forebound eternity.
He sat there sure, so alone on the space defined
by a breath of a shroud from city Ur and now.

It began to rain, a gift to parched ever earth,
in a torrent that drove fear from hiding eyes.
Yet not a drop hit that spread of virgin wool
though the flowers sang and the parched grass unbound.

His hands were splay open in forgiving praise,
and his untold pain forgotten in joyful song,
and I was but driven to my trembling knees
to be so cleaved to the bare threads of time.

For it was his tears
that tumbled there.
that my soul rejoice
in being quenched
and life reborn.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005



Welcome to Chris who is currently battling the Blogger Beast to gain entrance. We look forward to having you with us Chris!

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

(Shel Silverstein)

If After the War

As a VietNam vet,
my view is different from many
on my country's current actions.

A young friend, bound for Iran, shared thoughts
with me about having a child with his bride
of only four months. I wrote a sonnet for him ...


Come to me, little one, birth of my soul's dreaming.
We have seen, we have heard, we will find peace at last.
Daughter of Silver Moon, answer to our yearning.
Sing, join our prayer, rejoice that waiting has past.

Yet, now I must call ready halt to such plans of joy,
For fast charging knights born of bigotry and greed
Churn the blessed dust of life into clouds of agony
For to blind the ignorant to fictitious need.

My eternal life source and sense are buffeted
By external seething rancor and insolence.
Our tranquil night by vicious cries are disturbed
While vengeance goads past friends to violence.

I will not bring you forth to formless misery
All, all in the blasphemed name of humanity.

After The War

Image Hosted by

If I could write
I would write about
when the war ended
I would record how
we threw our ration cards
into the air
and danced into the night
hugging one another

I would marvel
using superlatives
to describe
Little things like
Spring lambs gambolling in the fields
The song of
crystalline Castalian waters
gurgling over ancient stones

I'd tell of
pulling out sheer silk stockings
and my golden organza ball gown
to wear at the celebratory ball
of waltzing
with my one true love
to the sounds of
Horrie Dargie's Rag Time Band

After the war
I will write.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Special Father's View

A couple of years ago a Catholic friend
asked if I could write him something for Father's Day
to read to his own ailing father named 'Joseph'.


Joseph by Silence
(for Father's Day)

How you have grown, my son. So tall. So distant. Once you fit in the palm of my hand. Now the potential of your life surrounds me with fingers of strength and directions unimagined. I am but a simple man, with a carpenter's skill and even eye and trusted word. I know that you are not truly mine, but also know that my passionate heart beats within your breast and that ready companioned tear comes from me. I, not your mother of such internal beauty and strength. My humble gift - my all.

It is I who hears rustling in the leaves and know that He is there. It is I who can predict the weather in the turn of the hawk in flight. Let me show you the touch of ages in the rings of perfect wood. Then the tiny flaws that speak of life, and winter strife and man's intrusion. Which is more profound here. Look, look. The aphid milks the sweetness from the flower that the flighted bee cannot reach. See there -- it is all around us. Skip the stone across the lake my son. Immerse yourself in any boy's rightful claim to supple body and ready mind. One -- two -- three! Soon your time will come.

You will soon enough learn of the tug of will, and self and humanity. May I give you the joyful sadness of the bursting morn and the yearning hope of pulsing sunset. Today is gone in toil and honest work's special communication with the land and nature. Now is the time of spirit's birth and plan for tomorrow's useful blessing. Together we finished the bench -- it is strong and will serve well. Better still, it is but the size of two who can sit together by the fire, or serve as a saddle for an uncle's bouncing knee. Did you understand, my son? The tree was a gift. Our skill to fashion such is a gift. The love shared upon it is a gift. But the need and call to make it? No, that comes from humanity's bond - a covenant forged long ago. Given ability to choose, or special gift of hand or heart? Which will guide you, my son?

Come. Mary's table is set, I am sure.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

In Memoriam: Father's Day 2005

The feelings of childhood, never fully go
Those first emotions, impressions, images
Are engraved in echos
Like depth charges
Into the core of

You launched the kite
While I held the string
The wind took it from your fingers,
One Titan to another,
And lifted it dancing across the sky

You called the wind and
Your creation of paper, fabric and string
Tugged my heart strings
Into heaven

©Edwina Peterson Cross

Poetry?? - Father's Day - Duenda

This is from another site, written by an e-mail friend (who does write poetry).
He is a Camaldosese Oblate in a monastary in New England. Try this for Duenda.


A father's day thought yes,

i have a father who comes to mind today.
and that is rare as my days go;
his hammer thundered against my anvil for so long
my memory thickened with scar and emptied its contents.
and yet i love him to this day.
he was hard and selfish, thick and menacing,
loud,drunk and self indulgent;
but still, i love him.

i am safely away from him now
and it is not so dangerous to think these thoughts of love.
i would give anything to be his friend.
a tender word from him
would sear my heart and rip myflesh;
a kind gesture would stoke me like a furnace.
can i contemplate such things with an empty heart?

i love him because he taught me enduring hope;
with him, hope was gristle and bone.
it was my daily meal.
he was terrified of me from the moment i was born;
how could he tame his terrible brawn to mirror my tiny frame.
but he stayed until my bones were the size of his;
and then he ran to save my life.
he took all he had and ran like a thief in the night
to escape the murder that was in his heart.

i looked him in the eye and did not blink
and he ran so fearfulof my foolishness.
i love him for his own foolishness
that is also comfortable in my company;
he and i share a single heart
below the appearance of frame and skin.

he too could love a geranium or the first robin of spring;
he could extend his thick arms around a crowd
and roar with delight at any silliness;
e could push his body past numbness
with heavy work and not complain;
and he could admire the novel thought
and feel gratitude for its refreshment.

i love him and stand on his shoulders;
i never ran from my family,
and i learned the humility of love,
and found my children in me,
and held tight the warm hand of my spouse
that too often saw my father in my eyes.
i love him because i did not choose him;
he entered my life as a gift from God.
i tremble with the hard challenge he is to me
and i thank God that i endure.
if i lost my love for this hard soul
i would soften like a fallen quince.

love is hard. life is hard. the world is hard.
and soft flesh is too tender to match
to hammers of time and work.
i won't cast the first stone;
my own dark shadows stop my arm.
i am no more perfect that he was
and delusion arrives if i loose my love for him.
we must love each other exactly in our faults.
that is the first lesson of all faiths
and the hard reality of man.

i love my father because his horrors are no match
for what a child sees and a hungry heart feels.
and those things are eternal;
the gears of time cannot grind them down.
i love him because he is so hard to love;
and that is the mind of God working in my little world,
insignificant without the hard love required
in the dark of night, and the light of prayer.

i thank you, and i thunder back at you today
because you cannot run from my staring eyes.
nor i from yours.
we are two beautiful creatures
crippled by our own histories and deserving of each other.
i am as much a gift to you as you to me,
and i know you see that now.

you can't run; i can't hide.
and we meet at last as friends.your secret is out;
i know you love me, too.
there is no reason left to hide.

your son,


Recycle Dreams

Gleaned from Winnie:

"A dream was dreamed of ever
Between the sunset and the dawn
Thrown like gold on the waters
Before the clear cold moon had gone

One asked for words of stardust
For the spinning of yesterday’s lore
One for the relished taste of now
And the keel scrapped on the shore"

Still rush the waters of the moon,
Down to the waiting rebirth sea;
To meet the flound'ring ship of dreams,
Drug down by banacles of never be.

Thus spirit joins with troubled mind
On the rocky shore of the soul;
And both will smooth the sands of time,
polishing gems of thoughts and all.

In the gristing of Goddess tears
And crusted fears and dwindling hopes,
Will rise a mist of most simple faith
That seeds the rain and launches ships.

Dreams cast in moonlight

Inspired by Winnie's "Landing"

Moon Beams

Moon beams scarcely disturb my thoughts,
Or enter into calculation
Of my import on love or life.

Yet they are there eternally;
Ticking sure in a maiden's womb
And crashing waves on the shore.

Can I pretend there is no touch
Of silver slivers of delight
Upon my slowly passing life?

With aching bones and slumping frame
I seek love's caress in any light.
Only a fool would shun the Goddess.

Come close in full brilliant display,
Or tiny slip, or hidden face.
I will stand in silence -- and wait.

You will come, of this I am sure.
My tears will change to stardust.
My dreadful pain will melt away.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Landing At Ithaca

A tall ship bound for Ithaca
Wrapped with silver sails
Bound with turquoise tortoise shells
And the hide of suckling whales

A dream was dreamed of ever
Between the sunset and the dawn
Thrown like gold on the waters
Before the clear cold moon had gone

One asked for words of stardust
For the spinning of yesterday’s lore
One for the relished taste of now
And the keel scrapped on the shore

One held Ithaca hard in his hands
And twisted to squeeze out the juice
Then fashioned the empty carcass
Round his neck in a tightening noose

If never was always, then ever was lost
In a shatter of showering spray
Perhaps one woke to discover
That the tall ship had sailed away

And now one knows each alleyway
The twist of each dirt packed street
And there is nothing left of Ithaca
That is wet or soft or sweet

Stand on the sand and squint out to sea
Where the sweet wind blows unfailing
For one has never come to shore
And the questing ship’s still sailing

©Edwina Peterson Cross
(Based on the poem 'Ithaka' by C P Cavafy)

By the light of Duenda

Yesterday, before I read Heather's posting
(there are no coincidences),
m'lady Emrys reminded me of a child's game
in which she traveled by jumping
from shadow to shadow on a wooded trail --
perhaps by moonlight --
never touching the fearsome light,
praising the solid darkness
and leaving the easier path
to others less nimble,
and finding that her meager vision
was no hindrence at all --
for is the space were too great,
she could always fly.
to equate darkness of spirit and soul
as contrast with 'goodness' is a perception --
consider another ...

Your only purpose, my friend, in end and all, is to cast shadows. Without you the Light would be everywhere and shine so brightly that nothing could be seen. In your shadow another person might be able to see a little bit of truth and right and wonder. Stand tall or shrivel small -- you will always project a bit of non-light upon existence. You don't have to see these shadows. In fact, it is impossible to see them and face the Light. You must have 'faith' that these shadows are there -- to know that they are and will affect others. Simple! Of course, anyone standing near in physical presence or perceived importance will cast a shadow that must intersect your own, and either dissipate or enhance your affect on others. In response you reflect back upon these other shadow casters both a projection of your own presence and a reflection of their own unique pattern of light and diffusion. Not simple at all!

Now that you understand the concept -- the perspective of shadowing and reflecting you can also understand innocence and humility. Imagine achieving a state of being, right here and now, such that you have no identity or personal need for existence -- that every ripple on eternal energy is a result of your presence as it affects others -- nothing more! The reflection you gift others is not of a gilded surface, but a return ray of soul that has rattled around the inner chambers of your being, filtered and encouraged by memories, values and adeptness -- to issue forth in lazerly precision as a wave of selfless awe and love. The shadow you cast both protects others from the harsh glare of lanterns forged of pride and greed, and allows your own lantern glow to have more profound effect on all who would embrace your presence.

That is a concept of power not achievable in this Attention but may serve as a model of aspiration -- and understanding that occasionally this interaction of self and soul and kindred spirits does entrance thus and so; and the only question is -- are you prepared? Look to your lantern! Is your fuel low -- does your wick need trimming -- are the lenses smudged or shutters rusted inflexibly into yesterday's perceptions? I have no need to define these things -- for each of you, in your own ancient wisdom, know exactly what I mean.

Just know and shift slightly to understanding, that regardless of the shape and form and order of your lantern -- you will and must have an effect on others -- each by each; friend or stranger; close held or distant by space or time. Aye, me friend -- I speak of faith! The shadows you cast exceed your directed brilliance. They reach out, beyond and through all limits of man's confoundment and intent. The fact of your holding high your lantern is felt and known in the city of Ur and the hallways of Styrna on a planet not yet born. This is what spirit means -- this is the importance of your soul's play with Tegsh and all! This is why you chose to pay attention and why your thought is less important than that you have thoughts -- your intent less important than that you dream -- your need for recognition is less important that the fact that you can love and recognize others.

In fact, everything you are capable of perceiving about yourself and your importance is nothing -- nothing at all when compared with the essences of your simply being …

as it was in the beginning …
and shall everbe.


Friday, June 17, 2005

As Green As I Would Have You Be

“Verde que te quierro verde
Green wind. Green boughs.
The boat on the sea.
Green as I would have you be”
(Federico Garcia Lorca - Romance Sonambulo)

“Sail, sail
Toward the army of uneven points . . .
There are ships that want to be seen in order to sink in peace . . .
Sail toward a pulverized
Landscape of ambush.
And the moon?/Y la luna . . .
The moon with a smoking glove
sitting by the doorway of it’s wreckage.”
(Federico Garcia Lorca - “Luna y Panorama de los Insectos” Poeta en Nueva York)

and your tears on the shores of a horse’s eyes
that never reaches the sea . . .
(Federico Garcia Lorca - “Niña ahogada en el pozo” Poeta en Nueva York)

Give me your moon glove,
Your other glove of grass, my love
(Federico Garcia Lorca - “Nocturno del hueco” Poeta en Nueva York)

. . . the bull has his orbit,
and the bullfighter has his,
and I must look at death with geometry, with measure
with the fundamental basis of a bulfight.
(Federico Garcia Lorca - In Search of Duende)

Dynamite of Melons

Love, until his lips has turned to silver . . .
Love, admidst the shivering of knives and dynamite of melons.
(Federico Garcia Lorca -“Grito hacia Roma” Poeta en Nueva York)

The Angel The Muse Duende

Over recent days, as I have sat, reflecting and meditating during long hours at the hospital, I have had cause to ponder upon Duende, the creative force that propels our creative endeavour and fills our well with droplets of steel in times of need. Now I feel compelled to ask each of you to consider not only the angel and the muse but Duende.

Duende came in search of me once more when Winnie, in a pensive, philosophical mood, asked me how I teach writing. I admitted that I do not really teach writing but I encourage people to put their hands in the loam and experience duende. I encourage people to grope and feel duende for it is only when duende is present that writing becomes authentic.

Read the following article by Frederico Garcia Lorca and talk about your views on the 'life force' that drives creativity, the mead we each seek.

The Duende: Theory and Divertissement
by Frederico Garcia Lorca

Whoever inhabits that bull's hide stretched between the Jucar, the Gaudelete, the Sil or the Pisuerga - no need to mention the streams joining those lion-coloured waves churned up by the Plata - has heard it said with a certain frequency: "Now that has real duende !" It was in this spirit that Manuel Torres, the great artist of the Andalusian people, once remarked to a singer: "You have a voice, you know all the styles, but you'll never bring it off because you have no duende."

In all Andalusia, from the rock of Jaen to the shell of Cádiz, people constantly speak of the duende and find it in everything that springs out of energetic instinct. That marvelous singer, "El Librijano," originator of the Debla, observed, "Whenever I am singing with duende, no one can come up to me"; and one day the old gypsy dancer, "La Malena," exclaimed while listening to Brailowski play a fragment of Bach: "Olé! That has duende !"- and remained bored by Gluck and Brahms and Darius Milhaud. And Manuel Torres, to my mind a man of exemplary blood culture, once uttered this splendid phrase while listening to Falla himself play his "Nocturno del Generalife": "Whatever has black sounds has duende." There is no greater truth.

These black sounds are the mystery, the roots that probe through the mire that we all know of, and do not understand, but which furnishes us with whatever is sustaining in art. Black sounds: so said the celebrated Spaniard, thereby concurring with Goethe, who, in effect, defined the duende when he said, speaking of Paganini: "A mysterious power that all may feel and no philosophy can explain."

The duende, then, is a power and not a construct, is a struggle and not a concept. I have heard an old guitarist, a true virtuoso, remark, "The duende is not in the throat, the duende comes up from inside, up from the very soles of the feet." That is to say, it is not a question of aptitude, but of a true and viable style - of blood, in other words; of what is oldest in culture: of creation made act.

This "mysterious power that all may feel and no philosophy can explain," is, in sum, the earth-force, the same duende that fired the heart of Nietzsche, who sought it in its external forms on the Rialto Bridge, or in the music of Bizet, without ever finding it, or understanding that the duende he pursued had rebounded from the mystery-minded Greeks to the Dancers of Cádiz or the gored, Dionysian cry of Silverio's siguiriya.

So much for the duende; but I would not have you confuse the duende with the theological demon of doubt at whom Luther, on a Bacchic impulse, hurled an inkwell in Nuremberg, or with the Catholic devil, destructive, but short on intelligence, who disguised himself as a bitch to enter the convents, or with the talking monkey that Cervantes' mountebank carried in the comedy about jealousy and the forests of Andalusia.

No. The duende that I speak of, shadowy, palpitating, is a descendant of that benignest demon of Socrates, he of marble and salt, who scratched the master angrily the day he drank the hemlock; and of that melancholy imp of Descartes, little as an unripe almond, who, glutted with circles and lines, went out on the canals to hear the drunken sailors singing.

Any man - any artist, as Nietzsche would say - climbs the stairway in the tower of his perfection at the cost of a struggle with a duende - not with an angel, as some have maintained, or with his muse. This fundamental distinction must be kept in mind if the root of a work of art is to be grasped.

The angel guides and endows, like Saint Raphael, or prohibits and avoids like Saint Michael, or foretells, like Saint Gabriel.

The Angel dazzles; but he flies over men's heads and remains in mid-air, shedding his grace; and the man, without any effort whatever, realizes his work, or his fellow-feeling, or his dance. The angel on the road to Damascus, and he who entered the crevice of the little balcony of Assisi, or that other angel who followed in the footsteps of Heinrich Suso, commanded - and there was no resisting his radiance, for he waved his wings of steel in an atmosphere of predestination.

The Muse dictates and, in certain cases, prompts. There is relatively little she can do, for she keeps aloof and is so full of lassitude (I have seen her twice) that I myself have had to put half a heart of marble in her. The Poets of the Muse hear voices and do not know where they come from; but surely they are from the Muse, who encourages and at times devours them entirely. Such, for example, was the case of Apollinaire, that great poet ravaged by the horrible Muse with whom the divinely angelic Rousseau painted him. The Muse arouses the intellect, bearing landscapes of columns and the false taste of laurel; but intellect is oftentimes the foe of poetry because it imitates too much, it elevates the poet to a throne of acute angles and makes him forget that in time the ants can devour him, too, or that a great arsenical locust can fall on his head, against which the Muses who live inside monocles or the lukewarm lacquer roses of insignificant salons, are helpless.

Angel and Muse approach from without; the Angel sheds light and the Muse gives form (Hesiod learned of them). Gold leaf or chiton-folds: the poet finds his models in his laurel coppice. But the Duende, on the other hand, must come to life in the nethermost recesses of the blood.

And repel the Angel, too - kick out the Muse and conquer his awe of the fragrance of violets that breathe from the poetry of the eighteenth century, or of the great telescope in whose lenses the Muse dozes off, sick of limits.

The true struggle is with the Duende.

The paths leading to God are well known, from the barbaric way of the hermit, to the subtler modes of the mystic. With a tower, then, like Saint Theresa, or with three roads, like St. John of the Cross. And even if we must cry out in Isaiah's voice: "Truly, thou art the hidden God!" at the end at last, God sends to each seeker his first fiery thorns.

To seek out the Duende, however, neither map nor discipline is required. Enough to know that he kindles the blood like an irritant, that he exhausts, that he repulses, all the bland, geometrical assurances, that he smashes the styles; that he makes of a Goya, master of the grays, the silvers, the roses of the great English painters, a man painting with his knees and his fists in bituminous blacks; that he bares a Mosen Cinto Verdaguer to the cold of the Pyrenees or induces a Jorge Manrique to sweat out his death on the crags of Ocaña, or invests the delicate body of Rimbaud in the green domino of the saltimbanque, or fixes the dead fish-eyes on the Comte de Lautréamont in the early hours of the boulevard.

The great artists of southern Spain, both gypsies and flamenco, whether singing or dancing or playing their instruments, know that no emotion is possible without the mediation of the Duende. They may hoodwink the people, they may give the illusion of duende without really having it, just as writers and painters and literary fashion-mongers without duende cheat you daily; but it needs only a little care and the will to resist one's own indifference, to discover the imposture and put it and its crude artifice to flight.

Once the Andalusian singer, Pastora Pavon, "The Girl with the Combs," a sombre Hispanic genius whose capacity for fantasy equals Goya's or Raphael el Gallo's, was singing in a little tavern in Cádiz. She sparred with her voice - now shadowy, now like molten tin, now covered with moss; she tangled her voice in her long hair or drenched it in sherry or lost it in the darkest and furthermost bramble bushes. But nothing happened - useless, all of it! The hearers remained silent.

There stood Ignacio Espeleta, handsome as a Roman turtle, who was asked once why he never worked, and replied with a smile worthy of Argantonio: "How am I to work if I come from Cádiz?"

There, too, stood Héloise, the fiery aristocrat, whore of Seville, direct descendant of Soledad Vargas, who in the thirties refused to marry a Rothschild because he was not of equal blood. There were the Floridas, whom some people call butchers, but who are really millennial priests sacrificing bulls constantly to Geryon; and in a corner stood that imposing breeder of bulls, Don Pablo Murabe, with the air of a Cretan mask. Pastora Pavon finished singing in the midst of total silence. There was only a little man, one of those dancing mannikins who leap suddenly out of brandy bottles, who observed sarcastically in a very low voice: "Viva Paris!" As if to say: We are not interested in aptitude or techniques or virtuosity here. We are interested in something else.

Then the "Girl with the Combs" got up like a woman possessed, her face blasted like a medieval weeper, tossed off a great glass of Cazalla at a single draught, like a potion of fire, and settled down to singing - without a voice, without breath, without nuance, throat aflame - but with duende ! She had contrived to annihilate all that was nonessential in song and make way for an angry and incandescent Duende, friend of sand-laden winds, so that everyone listening tore at his clothing almost in the same rhythm with which the West Indian negroes in their rites rend away their clothes, huddled in heaps before the image of Saint Barbara.

The "Girl with the Combs" had to mangle her voice because she knew there were discriminating folk about who asked not for form, but for the marrow of form - pure music spare enough to keep itself in the air. She had to deny her faculties and her security; that is to say, to turn out her Muse and keep vulnerable, so that her Duende might come and vouchsafe the hand-to-hand struggle. And then how she sang! Her voice feinted no longer; it jetted up like blood, ennobled by sorrow and sincerity, it opened up like ten fingers of a hand around the nailed feet of a Christ by Juan de Juni - tempestuous!

The arrival of the Duende always presupposes a radical change in all the forms as they existed on the old plane. It gives a sense of refreshment unknown until then, together with that quality of the just-opening rose, of the miraculous, which comes and instils an almost religious transport.

In all Arabian music, in the dances, songs, elegies of Arabia, the coming of the Duende is greeted by fervent outcries of Allah! Allah! God! God!, so close to the Olé" Olé! of our bull rings that who is to say they are not actually the same; and in all the songs of southern Spain the appearance of the Duende is followed by heartfelt exclamations of God alive! - profound, human tender, the cry of communion with God through the medium of the five senses and the grace of the Duende that stirs the voice and the body of the dancer - a flight from this world, both real and poetic, pure as Pedro de Roja's over the seven gardens (that most curious poet of the seventeenth century), or Juan Calimacho's on the tremulous ladder of tears.

Naturally, when flight is achieved, all feel its effects: the initiate coming to see at last how style triumphs over inferior matter, and the unenlightened, through the I-don't-know-what of an authentic emotion. Some years ago, in a dancing contest at Jerez de la Frontera, an old lady of eighty, competing against beautiful women and young girls with waists as supple as water, carried off the prize merely by the act of raising her arms, throwing back her head, and stamping the little platform with a blow of her feet; but in the conclave of muses and angels foregathered there - beauties of form and beauties of smile - the dying duende triumphed as it had to, trailing the rusted knife blades of its wings along the ground.

All the arts are capable of duende, but it naturally achieves its widest play in the fields of music, dance and the spoken poem, since those require a living presence to interpret them, because they are forms which grow and decline perpetually and raise their contours on the precise present.

Often the Duende of the musician passes over into the Duende of the interpreter, and at other times, when the musician and poet are not matched, the Duende of the interpreter - this is interesting - creates a new marvel that retains the appearance - and the appearance only - of the originating form. Such was the case with the duende-ridden Duse who deliberately sought out failures in order to turn them into triumphs, thanks to her capacity for invention; or with Paganini who, as Goethe explained, could make one hear profoundest melody in out-and-out vulgarity; or with a delectable young lady from the port of Santa María whom I saw singing and dancing the horrendous Italian ditty, "O Marie!" with such rhythms, such pauses, and such conviction that she transformed an Italian geegaw into a hard serpent of raised gold. What happened, in effect, was that each in his own way found something new, something never before encountered, which put lifeblood and art into bodies void of expression.

In every country, death comes as a finality. It comes, and the curtain comes down. But not in Spain! In Spain the curtain goes up. Many people live out their lives between walls until the day they die and are brought out into the sun. In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country of the world: their profile wounds like the edge of a barbers razor. The quip about death and the silent contemplation of it are familiar to the Spanish. From the "Dream of the Skulls" of Quevedo, to the "Putrescent Bishop" of Valdés Leal; from La Marbella of the seventeenth century who, dying in childbirth on the highway, says:

The blood of my entrails
Covers the horse.
And the horse's hooves
Strike fire from the pitch

to a recent young man from Salamanca, killed by a bull who exclaimed:

My friends, I am dying.
My friends, it goes badly.
I've three handkerchiefs inside me,
And this I apply now makes four.

there is a balustrade of flowering nitre where hordes peer out, contemplating death, with verses from Jeremiah for the grimmer side or sweet-smelling cypress for the more lyrical - but in any case, a country where all that is most important has its final metallic valuation in death.

The knife and the cart wheel and the razor and the singing beard-points of the shepherds, the shorn moon and the fly, the damp lockers, the ruins and the lace-covered saints, the quicklime and the cutting line of eaves and balconies: in Spain, all bear little grass-blades of death, allusions and voices perceptible to the spiritually alert, that call to our memory with the corpse-cold air of our own passing. It is no accident that all Spanish art is bound to our soil, so full of thistles and definitive stone; the lamentations of Pleberio or the dances of the master Josef Maria de Valdivielso are not isolated instances, nor is it by chance that from all the balladry of Europe the Spanish inamorata disengages herself in this fashion:

"If you are my fine friend,
Tell me - why won't you look at me?"
"The eyes with which I look at you
I gave up to the shadow."
"If you are my fine friend
Tell me - why don't you kiss me?"
"The lips with which I kissed you
I gave up to the clay."
"If you are my fine friend
Tell me - why won't you embrace me?"
"The arms that embrace you
I have covered up with worms."

Nor is it strange to find that in the dawn of our lyricism, the following note is sounded:

Inside the garden
I shall surely die.
Inside the rosebush
They will kill me.
Mother, Mother,
I went out
Gathering roses,
But surely death will find me
In the Garden.
Mother, Mother,
I went out
Cutting roses,
But surely death will find me
In the rosebush.
Inside the garden
I shall surely die.
In the rosebush
They will kill me.

Those heads frozen by the moon that Zurbarán painted, the butter-yellows and the lightening-yellows of El Greco, the narrative of Father Sigüenza, all the work of Goya, the presbytery of the Church of the Escorial, all polychrome sculpture, the crypt of the ducal house of Osuna, the death with the guitar in the chapel of the Benavente in Medina de Río Seco - all equal, on the plane of cultivated art, the pilgrimages of San Andrés de Teixido where the dead have their place in the procession; they are one with the songs for the dead that the women of Asturias intone with flame-filled lamps in the November night, one with the song and dance of the Sibyl in the cathedrals of Mallorca and Toledo, with the obscure "In Recort" of Tortosa, and the innumerable rites of Good Friday that, with the arcane fiesta of the Bulls, epitomize the popular triumph of Spanish death. In all the world, Mexico alone can go hand-in-hand with my country.

When the Muse sees death on the way, she closes the door, or raises a plinth, or promenades an urn and inscribes an epitaph with a waxen hand, but in time she tears down her laurels again in a silence that wavers between two breezes. Under the truncated arch of the Ode, she joins with funereal meaning the exact flowers that the Italians of the fifteenth century depicted, with the identical cock of Lucretius, to frighten off an unforeseen darkness.

When the Angel sees death on the way, he flies in slow circles and weaves with tears of narcissus and ice the elegy we see trembling in the hands of Keats and Villasandino and Herrera and Becquer and Juan Ramón Jiménez. But imagine the terror of the Angel, should it feel a spider - even the tiniest - on its tender and roseate flesh!

The Duende, on the other hand, will not approach at all if he does not see the possibility of death, if he is not convinced he will circle death's house, if there is not every assurance he can rustle the branches borne aloft by us all, that neither have, nor may ever have, the power to console.

With idea, with sound, or with gesture, the Duende chooses the brim of the well for his open struggle with the creator. Angel and Muse escape in the violin or in musical measure, but the Duende draws blood, and in the healing of the wound that never quite closes, all that is unprecedented and invented in a man's work has its origin.

The magical virtue of poetry lies in the fact that it is always empowered with duende to baptize in dark water all those who behold it, because with duende, loving and understanding are simpler, there is always the certainty of being loved and being understood; and this struggle for expression and for the communication of expression acquires at times, in poetry, finite characters.

Recall the case of that paragon of the flamenco and daemonic way, Saint Teresa - flamenca not for her prowess in stopping an angry bull with three significant passes - though she did so - nor for her presumption in esteeming herself beautiful in the presence of Fray Juan de Miseria, nor for slapping the face of a papal nuncio; but rather for the simple circumstance that she was one of the rare ones whose Duende (not her Angel - the Angels never attack) pierced her with an arrow, hoping thereby to destroy her for having deprived him of his ultimate secret: the subtle bridge that links the five senses with the very center, the living flesh, living cloud, living sea, of Love emancipated from Time.

Most redoubtable conqueress of the Duende - and how utterly unlike the case of Philip of Austria who, longing to discover the Muse and the Angel in theology, found himself imprisoned by the Duende of cold ardors in that masterwork of the Escorial, where geometry abuts with a dream and the Duende wears the mask of the Muse for the eternal chastisement of the great king.

We have said that the Duende loves ledges and wounds, that he enters only those areas where form dissolves in a passion transcending any of its visible expressions.

In Spain (as in all Oriental countries where dance is a form of religious expression) the Duende has unlimited play in the bodies of the dancers of Cádiz, eulogized by Martial, in the breasts of the singers, eulogized by Juvenal, and in all the liturgy of the bulls - that authentic religious drama where, in the manner of the Mass, adoration and sacrifice are rendered a God.

It would seem that all the duende of the classical world is crowded into this matchless festival, epitomizing the culture and the noble sensibility of a people who discover in man his greatest rages, his greatest melancholies, his greatest lamentations. No one, I think, is amused by the dances or the bulls in Spain; the Duende has taken it on himself to make them suffer through the medium of drama, in living forms, and prepares the ladders for flight from encompassing reality.

The Duende works on the body of the dancer like the wind works on sand. With magical force, it converts a young girl into a lunar paralytic; or fills with adolescent blushes a ragged old man begging handouts in the wineshops; or suddenly discovers the smell of nocturnal ports in a head of hair, and moment for moment, works on the arms with an expressiveness which is the mother of the dance of all ages.

But it is impossible for him ever to repeat himself - this is interesting and must be underscored. The Duende never repeats himself, any more than the forms of the sea repeat themselves in a storm.

In the bullfight, the Duende achieves his most impressive advantage, for he must fight then with death who can destroy him, on one hand, and with geometry, with measure, the fundamental basis of the bullfight, on the other.

The Bull has his orbit, and the bullfighter has his, and between orbit and orbit is the point of risk where falls the vertex of the terrible byplay.

It is possible to hold a Muse with a muletta and an Angel with banderillas, and pass for a good bullfighter; but for the faena de capa, with the bull still unscarred by a wound, the help of the Duende is necessary at the moment of the kill, to drive home the blow of artistic truth.

The bullfighter who moves the public to terror in the plaza by his audacity does not fight the bull - that would be ludicrous in such a case - but, within the reach of each man, puts his life at stake; on the contrary, the fighter bitten by the Duende gives a lesson in Pythagorian music and induces all to forget how he constantly hurls his heart against the horns.

Lagartigo with his Roman duende, Joselito with his Jewish duende, Belmonte with his baroque duende, and Cagancho with his gypsy duende, from the twilight of the ring, teach poets, painters, and musicians four great ways of the Spanish tradition.

Spain is the only country where death is the national spectacle, where death blows long fanfares at the coming of each Spring, and its art is always governed by a shrewd duende that has given it its distinctive character and its quality of invention.

The Duende that, for the first time in sculpture, fills the cheeks of the saints of the master Mateo de Compostela with blood, is the same spirit that evokes the lamentations of St. John of the Cross or burns naked nymphs on the religious sonnets of Lope.

The Duende who raises the tower of Sahagun or tesselates hot brick in Calatayud or Teruel, is the same spirit that breaks open the clouds of El Greco and sends the constables of Quevedo and the chimaeras of Goya sprawling with a kick.

When it rains, he secretly brings out a duende-minded Velasquez, behind his monarchical grays; when it snows he sends Herrera out naked to prove that cold need not kill; when it burns, he casts Berruguette into the flames and lets him invent a new space for sculpture.

The music of Góngora and the Angel of Garcilaso must yield up the laurel wreath when the Duende of St. John of the Cross passes by, when

The wounded stag
peers over the hill.

The Muse of Góngora de Berceo and the Angel of the Archpriest of Hita must give way to the approaching Jorge Manrique when he comes, wounded to death, to the gates of the Castle of Belmonte. The Muse of Gregorio Hernandez and the Angel of José de Mora must retire, so that the Duende weeping blood-tears of Mena, and the Duende of Matinez Montañes with a head like an Assyrian bull's, may pass over, just as the melancholy Muse of Cataluña and the humid Angel of Galicia must watch, with loving terror, the Duende of Castile, far from the hot bread and the cow grazing mildly among forms of swept sky and parched earth.

The Duende of Quevedo and the Duende of Cervantes, one bearing phosphorescent green anemones and the other the plaster flowers of Ruidera, crown the alter-piece of the Duende of Spain.

Each art has, by nature, its distinctive Duende of style and form, but all roots join at the point where the black sounds of Manuel Torres issue forth - the ultimate stuff and the common basis, uncontrollable and tremulous, of wood and sound and canvas and word.

Black sounds: behind which there abide, in tenderest intimacy, the volcanoes, the ants, the zephyrs, and the enormous night straining its waist against the Milky Way.

Ladies and gentlemen: I have raised three arches, and with clumsy hand I have placed in them the Muse, the Angel and the Duende.

The Muse keeps silent; she may wear the tunic of little folds, or great cow-eyes gazing towards Pompeii, or the monstrous, four-featured nose with which her great painter, Picasso, has painted her. The Angel may be stirring the hair of Antonello da Messina, the tunic of Lippi, and the violin of Masolino or Rousseau.

But the Duende - where is the Duende ? Through the empty arch enters a mental air blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, seeking new landscapes and unfamiliar accents; an air bearing the odor of child's spittle, crushed grass, and the veil of Medusa announcing the unending baptism of all newly-created things.

Lorca 1930