given by the stars

whitewash

Whitewash. Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

Borders deserve respect, but respect for asylum and respect for due process is deserved too. Danger lurks when we label others; people are not labels, they are human beings deserving dignity and respect. Human rights cannot be merely an abstraction, they must be the values by which we truly live every day. Human rights must be our primary colors; human rights cannot be whitewash. “The history of the Holocaust is not over. Its precedent is eternal, and its lessons have not yet been learned.”[1]

“Every man has a name

Given by the stars

Given by his neighbors.”

Zelda Mishkovsky, 1974

[1]Snyder, Timothy. Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2015.

Jesus and Woody

Taos

Taos, New Mexico. Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

Taos, New Mexico is a beautiful place. Imagine a warm summer evening sitting by a creek that rolls quietly to the river Rio Grande; you feel the magic of water in the desert. Water grants life; renews life. So precious is a life. My mind’s eye travels miles in seconds. Looking down from the bridge that crosses the narrow Rio Grande gorge, I toss a pinyon branch and I watch it travel through the canyon by the pueblos on it’s journey to Santa Fe; and then at Albuquerque where the river flattens and widens and water birds play along the shore; and on past El Paso where the river becomes the border between Texas and Mexico – a shallow river – a place of crossings for wild things – those beings naturally wild, we call free and others made wild by violence and fear, tired, poor and hungry seeking relief and asylum. Precious lives. There is no need for brick and mortar; we have built a wall of fear. An informative article in the April 23, 2018 New Yorker “A Voyage Along Trump’s Wall” sought to inspire discussion; discussion and compromise all seem so romantic now as we enter this the latest chapter of shock and awe.

Blessed am I able to freely sit and breathe and feel the special magic of a place. On this solstice day may the light shine and illuminate our way.

Happened upon the new Ry Cooder recording The Prodigal Son. It’s a good one. Keep thinking of the lyrics of his song Jesus and Woody inspired by Woody Guthrie’s song Jesus Christ where Woody (writing in 1940) speculates modern capitalist society would kill Jesus too. Listen to Woody sing here on YouTube. Ry’s lyrics – singing from Jesus’ perspective –  stick with me:

“so sing me a song ‘bout this land is your land’

and fascists bound to lose

you were a dreamer, Mr. Guthrie, and I was a dreamer too…..”

“…..some say I was a friend to sinners

but by now you know it’s true

guess I like sinners better than fascists

and I guess that makes me a dreamer too…..”

 

what you have tamed

LittleFoxes

Foxes heading to their den at sunrise. Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

For the past week, I have slept little…my nights spent watching the family of Gray Foxes living underneath the old shed near my father’s house.  Sleepy days give way to frenzied nights, as the three kits turn acrobat and lovingly and relentlessly tease their doting parents. I will always remember this trip to Texas and my new friends who opened doors in my dreams.

In Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince the fox gives important advice to the Prince:

“One only understands the things that one tames….men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more… What is essential is invisible to the eye…It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important…[and] you become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

Tamalpais

Mt. Tamalpais from Richmond

Mount Tamalpais from Rosie the Riveter National Park. Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

Living in the East Bay, our gaze draws westward, and this is not hard to understand. In the west looms San Francisco, our imperial city; our iconic bridges, the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge; winter rainstorms are born there; and the sun, traversing the north-south longitude, sets in the west. And quietly, holding up the sky, Mount Tamalpais anchors my western horizon. Tamalpais is always there, grounding me; at times just in the corner of my eye, and other times commanding my full attention, whether near or far. My love for Mount Tamalpais has grown deep over the years – many chapters of my story feature this mountain. In the 19th century, the ukiyo-e artist Hokusai captured his love for a revered Japanese mountain with his famous series of woodblock prints Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

Inspired by two books, Opening the Mountain: Circumambulating Mount Tamalpais A Ritual Walk by Mathew Davis & Michael Farrell Scott and Tamalpais Walking: Poetry, History and Prints by Tom Killion and Gary Snyder, I persuaded my dear friends, to walk from Muir Woods to East Peak, the top of Mount Tamalpais. At the end of March, we covered a distance of approximately twelve miles, spanning a range of plant communities, including redwoods, mixed evergreen forests, grasslands and chaparral, as well as plants, such as ceanothus, endemic to the mountain adapted to the Serpentine soils. Our journey gave amazing views of the greater Bay Area and we saw Mount Tam’s sister mountains: Black Mountain (west), Mount St. Helena (north), Mount Diablo (east) and Mount Hamilton (south). The artist Tom Killion began his love affair with Tamalpais as a young man, and inspired by Hokusai, he created beautiful prints of the mountain from multiple viewpoints, many of them featured in Tamalpais Walking.

Last week, cycling from Oakland to Richmond on the Bay Trail, I travelled a diverse landscape featuring mudflats so alive with plants and animals coexisting with trucks and cars speeding by on asphalt and cement highways. This is nature – mankind a dominating part of a community of flora and fauna; this is not wilderness. Throughout the journey, there was my friend Mount Tamalpais, on the horizon, a guidepost measuring my progress, a signpost holding close my memories.

 

 

embrace and see

 

Seebeyondmask

Robin L. Chandler, 2018

Some memories are like small towns on country roads;

once well travelled, now enigmas signifying an interstate exit.

Sister reminded me Mom’s favorite perfume was Faberge’s Tigress.

Dad bought her Tigress every Christmas.

Tigress: the sleek bottle containing the amber liquid crowned with a tiger skin stopper.

Unconscious memories no longer a mystery.

“Comprehend without your head

and without your ears, listen

to noiseless, un-mouthed words.”[1]

My mother was a Tigress – that was no mask.

She comprehended the noiseless, un-mouthed words of others.

Listening without her head and ears she always saw the truth behind other’s masks.

No matter how deep it cut-to-the-bone she always spoke her truth.

See suffered no fools.

And she always gave herself away for the benefit of others.

Across time and space I see you.

I embrace you.

I love you Tigress for all you did and hoped for me.

Namaste.

Written while listening to Caetano Veloso singing Cucurrucucu Paloma en Vivo inspired by the lyrics translated from Portuguese to English.

[1]A quote from Attar’s poem The Conference of the Birds, translated by Shole Wolpe

Arc (reveal)

ARC (reveal)

Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

The room is charged. His eyes two points that arc, revealing his story. He has fought the pain.  But there has been a price. He is so tired and there is so much he has forgotten.

“I sit with this room. With the grey walls that darken into corner. And one window with teeth in it. Sit so still you can hear your hair rustle in your shirt. Look away from the window when clouds and other things go by. [Ninety-seven] years old. There are no prizes.” [1]

[1]Michael OndaatjeComing Through Slaughter

mend (adjure)

Mend (adjure)

Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

 

Spring has roared awake.

Last Friday’s fervent downpour.

New leaves brilliant greens.

Soft. Supple. Hopeful.

 dear companions, follow Gary Snyder’s footprints:

Hiking Muir Woods to East Peak Tamalpais.

Day born in fog, climbing above misty clouds through rainy redwood rainforest.

Dappled sunshine coastal oaks and bay laurels; woodlands and meadows;

warmth on my skin.

Ridgeline a soft blanket enfolds the city, ocean sleeps

 cozy quilt.

Winding serpentine swale, wild turkey shares stories.

Manzanita blooms humming honey bees.

Twisted Pacific Madrona mark dry north side trail.

Paradox: Winter rains; little fog. A dryland.

Oasis of redwood trees, quench their timeless thirst by a spring.

Summiting: St. Helena to the North, Diablo to the East, Hamilton to the South.

From Tamalpais guardian of the West.

My mind locked in the winter of my Father’s illness. Naked and cold, not yet open to the thaw.

Will the hot sun of New Mexico burn winter away?

William Carlos Williams writes in Spring and All:

“Dead, brown leaves under them

Leafless vines –

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish, dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,

Cold, uncertain of it all

Save that they enter. All about them

The cold, familiar wind –“