Poetry: Too Important To Be Left To The Sane

Poetry Is Far Too Important For Sane

As an insecure, fear-driven youth I relied exclusively on intellect. Lacking faith in social institutions, other people, or myself, I steadfastly trusted my mind’s ability to predict and manage life’s challenges. It made for a chilly, detached existence I found satisfactory.

“Poetry is far too important to be left to the sane.” Taz Mopula

Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) changed all that for me. It was obvious that even my most faithful ally, my mind, was untrustworthy.

When I sat down to write Invisible Driving, my bipolar memoir, I knew I was taking a risk – remembering my mania to write about it might easily have sparked another episode. Revisiting my terrors was the very last thing I felt like doing.

Ultimately it became clear that, unless I faced my demon down, it would keep coming back and my next encounter with it might well be my last. So, I went sailing head first into darkness, I unwrapped the gift of desperation.

“Great soldiers are brave; great poets are reckless.” Taz Mopula

My rational mind dearly desired to control, to soar above events and manipulate them like a puppeteer with marionettes. But the task at hand took precedence over my ego, and because it did, I trusted the process itself. After so many years of being a shoemaker, doing piecework for nickels and dimes, I became a real writer not because I thought my way into it but because I surrendered to it.

“We write to discover who we are, and in the process, become somebody else.” Taz Mopula

I do not deny the importance of craft, if one wants to be a guitarist one must learn how to play the guitar. But it is not the fingers on strings that make you an artist; it is the story they tell, and the way it reaches, and moves, others. You don’t play music; you find it. It isn’t in a curvy wooden box; it passes through you like wind through a canyon, coming out of nowhere, on its way to parts unknown.

“Writing great poetry becomes much easier when you’re willing to die for it.” Taz Mopula

My dive into darkness replaced fear with faith, not just faith in myself, but faith in the unknown, and unknowable. I embraced chaos without judgment or disappointment; I understood I could rely upon uncertainty.

“Without life, poetry itself would be meaningless.” Taz Mopula

In the end a writer is merely a man in a room with a typewriter. He arranges words like a Byzantine artisan laying tiles into a mosaic which gradually reveals an illustrative pattern quite possibly unknown even to him until the very moment of completion.

“It’s always darkest before the movie starts.” Taz Mopula

I Sing Because I’m Happy, I Sing Because I’m Free

North Philly

I felt as though the air had grown thick; I navigated it laboriously, as one walks through knee-deep water. Sweetness and flavor were gone; colors had faded into a thousand gray variations. I was 26 and thoroughly adrift. In need of employment I followed a path worn smooth by thousands of over-educated lost souls before me, complete immersion in a dead-end, service sector job.

Penn Radio Cab was a poorly managed, independently owned taxi company that prospered by transporting Philadelphia’s under-served population throughout its most distressed neighborhoods. We were not Yellow, parked in front of swish hotels, on our way to the airport, oh no. Our days and nights were spent prowling the forbidding landscapes of North and West Philadelphia where money was scarce and life was cheap.

The management at Penn Radio exploited its drivers mercilessly – 12-hour shifts, 6-days a week, weekends mandatory, no exceptions. Saturdays were okay, but Sundays were useless, no fares, no money. Rolling the desolate, trash-lined streets, awash in post-apocalyptic rubble, cars on cinderblocks, hookers, junkies, cops, and newspaper delivery trucks, we ate donuts, drank coffee, and smoked cigarettes.

Early one Sunday morning in April, gritty city trees in graffiti-smeared planters bravely pushing buds out into the carbon-monoxide, I answered a radio call in North Philly. It was a slim brick row house in a block of identical dwellings distinguished by the presence of bright green Astro-turf on the front steps. Out of the house, moving with precise determination; came a distinguished, buttoned-up black nurse. She got in the cab.

Philadelphia is known for its hospitals, so when she gave me the address of a Baptist Church I was confused. In my innocence I asked her if she was attending church on her way to work. She said no, she worked at the church. More curious still I asked her why a church would need to have a nurse on hand.

She said, “You know, in case somebody gets too happy.”

Then it all came to me, like a wave. Being a choirboy at St. Martin’s in the Fields, my mom driving me and my friends to the service on Sunday, listening to the live feed on WHAT from The Cornerstone Baptist Church at 33rd & Diamond Streets and the way the entire congregation sang with a completely unqualified euphoria of jubilee shout halleluiah until we couldn’t figure out why the building was still standing and even then I ached for that kind of belief, that faith, that mad commitment and wondered how it must feel to give yourself up to the divine and surrender and then we would go to St. Martin’s in the Fields and sing and men in tweed with their women in mink would fall asleep and I thought this can’t be what religion is.

And so I drove the nurse to her church.

Let’s Eliminate Wretched Writing

Learn To Speak The Truth Foreign Language

I’ve been a professional writer for 30 years and in that time I’ve learned a few things. So, with the help of with my old friend Taz, I’m going to toss out some pointers guaranteed to make you a better writer.

“Technology has democratized the tools of creativity, resulting in a tsunami even more cretinous and loathsome than anticipated.” Taz Mopula

Today, everyone can instantly transmit shabby, incomprehensible phrases around the world. We are awash in a tidal wave of staggeringly poor writing. The good news for you is that it is easier than ever to stand out – good spelling alone puts you in the top 5%.

“Writing is the easiest part of being a writer; the most difficult part is becoming a writer.” Taz Mopula

Arranging words is the very last step of the writing process. Great writing begins with great thinking; your writing will improve immeasurably if your thinking and motives are clear.

“On the Internet, all statements are true; including this one.” Taz Mopula

The Internet is like a broad boulevard where idiocy, divinity, and evil stroll hand in hand. The poor reader must learn to separate cheese from Cheez Whiz. Your writing will either exploit and exacerbate this problem or help repair it.

“Learn to speak the truth; it is helpful to be fluent in a foreign language.” Taz Mopula

Truth is the hallmark of great writing. Most people purposely avoid telling the truth. Most of those who try, fail, since they habitually deceive themselves. While there is no such thing as absolute truth, understanding and sharing your personal truth catapults you into the top 1% of all writers.

“We write to discover who we are, and in the process, become somebody else.” Taz Mopula

Writing well requires a reckless disregard for comfort and safety. Be Columbus, sail off the edge of a flat ocean and you and your readers will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. Personal evolution is an almost inescapable byproduct of great writing.

“Ultimately it’s not what you don’t say that matters most so much as how you don’t say it.” Taz Mopula

Here is an exercise for you – listen to the music of Thelonious Monk for a day. Listen to the spaces in-between the notes. The confident writer says more by saying less, but when you do say something, make it count.

“Even the greatest paintings are flat; they only become three-dimensional in the eyes of those who behold them.” Taz Mopula

As a rule, writers are arrogant, narcissistic, impatient, self-indulgent and drunk. You’ll find over time that these qualities work against you and must be mastered. The finish line is the realization that you are a craftsman and a servant – without your audience you are merely a mime performing at a school for the blind.

Tristan Tzara, Marcel Duchamp & René Magritte Enter A Non-Existent Bar…

nude descending staircase

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 – Marcel Duchamp

Strolling through… WWW.ALISTAIRMCHARG.COM …one is inevitably struck by the austere minimalism, opulent use of white space, and painstaking attention to detail which combine to create a rarefied atmosphere at once calm, cool, and occasionally collected.

“Ultimately it’s not what you don’t say that matters most so much as how you don’t say it.” Taz Mopula

My work requires such a setting to be appreciated and, as a rule, visitors enjoy a brief respite from the nightmarish cacophony of what is laughingly referred to as modern culture.

“White is the new black, silence is the new eloquence, and obscurity is the new fame.” Taz Mopula

Taz Mopula snippets of mildly enigmatic pseudo-profundity are updated daily.

“To live happily it either is or is not essential that one learns to embrace self-contradictory concepts.” Taz Mopula

My cartoons – which precariously straddle the netherworld separating good-natured merriment from acidic, irreverent iconoclasm – are also updated daily.

“If you cannot see yourself as others see you, you will never understand why they are laughing.” Taz Mopula

Hep cats, deep thinkers, and sensitive artistes should be sure to visit the poetry alcove. Beware, poetry is powerful voodoo and best consumed in small doses. Poems are updated weekly in order to give readers time to recover.

“Without life, poetry itself would be meaningless.” Taz Mopula

Members of the press, and others with a desire to know more; can follow links to a plethora of audio, visual, and written deconstructions of my creative enterprises.

“Reality can only be found in artifice; mere facts simply aren’t honest enough.” Taz Mopula

The blog you are reading now is updated regularly and provides a repository for words too portly to be used elsewhere.

“We write to discover who we are, and in the process, become somebody else.” Taz Mopula

Our Gift Shop, conveniently called BOOKS, is always worth a visit! There you can purchase my redoubtable bipolar memoir, Invisible Driving, and my two satirical novels, Moonlit Tours and Washed Up, in paperback or digital download.

One click convenience HERE takes you right to the checkout line.

…and the bartender says, “Pamplemousse!”

All Aboard The Bipolar Express!

30th Street Station

I learned how to read and perform choral music a cappella in the damp, chilly basement of St. Martin in the Fields, a swank Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Without flogging an ailing nag let’s just say that St. Martins is adjacent to the grass tennis courts of The Philadelphia Cricket Club about which, the less said…Ironically, I returned to St. Martins decades later for an AA meeting, indeed, many of “the rooms” are located in the glamourless confines of church basements. But, as ever, I am ahead of myself.

The Choir Master was an intense, closeted homosexual who lived at home with his mother and brother, a countertenor. (His brother’s solos caused us discomfort and wonder.) Mr. Wilkinson was a driven, obsessive perfectionist; he whipped us into shape mercilessly, like a man whipping a rented mule. Because this was a boy’s choir, featuring the pristine, clear sound of male voices not yet cracked by the oncoming deluge of what is laughingly referred to as adulthood, we were all roughly the same age, in the 8-12 bracket. The congregation was accustomed to getting what it wanted and it wanted high-end music. Wilkinson delivered.

We practiced 3 evenings weekly and before service on Sunday. We were paid regularly, in pay envelopes, and got perks like presents and stints at summer camp. In other words, even though we were wisenheimer punks our approach to the music was dispassionately professional – we were not merely tight, we were kettledrum tight.

In that basement I learned music, performance, and Christmas. Ever since those days, really good authentic Christmas music has been my favorite part of the season, for many years it was the only part I could stomach.

The following excerpt from INVISIBLE DRIVING recounts my most memorable Christmas concert ever; I played 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. While in the midst of a manic flight, I “played” 30th Street Station – which is to say – I “played” 30th Street Station.

***

I felt like walking so I parked my car in the lot next to 30th Street Station. Thirtieth Street Station is an enormous Greek style train station that stands next to an elaborate yard handling freight trains, local trains, and long distance passenger trains. It’s a conduit for all North/South train travel. The station recalls a day when great power was based on rail transportation, before cars took over. But I’m not here to talk about what the station can recall, I’m talking about what I recall. It’s a massive building with a main hall as large as a football field and a ceiling that’s a hundred feet overhead. I remember as a child arriving in the station, climbing up the stairs from the train into the great hall, and feeling as though I was outside, the ceiling seemed that remote. On a whim I walked into the hall. There were early rising, upwardly mobile businesspeople swirling about, drinking coffee, reading the Wall Street Journal and licking boots just to keep in practice. Waiting for trains to New York and D.C. I looked up at the ceiling, puckered, and blew a note. It rang out in the hall, echoing off the marble, taking forever to decay.

Some things decay quite quickly, western civilization for example, but the note decayed slowly. I whistled the same note twice, two short blasts. Full bore, lots of volume, nicely amplified by the enormous hall. I drifted into a rousing rendition of “Ding, dong merrily on high.” Walked around the room and tested the acoustics from different angles. People were starting to eye me curiously but hey, was that going to bother me? I found that it actually took so long for the sound to die that I could use the echo as a base and whistle on top of it. Now I was doing the carol as a round, using the echo as a second voice. I found this highly amusing, simply droll, just too too funny, trés amusante, and tried it out with several carols. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Good King Wenceslas. Joy to the World. The music intoxicated me. People were eyeing me suspiciously, as if to say, it’s awfully early in the morning to be so cheerful, what’s wrong with this picture? I Saw Three Ships. I was wailing now.

I kept walking around the room as I performed, harder to hit a moving target. I knew that sooner or later some long-suffering lowly hod carrier, some factotum, some dolt, some running dog lackey of the petite bourgeoisie would tell me to put a lid on it. Away In A Manger. To amuse myself I tried different tones and different speeds. With turbocharged intensity I whistled as fast as I could. Then I hit on something that gassed me. Boparoopie. The speed made it possible to hang notes in the air long enough to lay another melody on top of them. So I started whistling discordant pairs of carols.

First a phrase from Joy To The World. Then, with those notes floating above the heads of my unsuspecting and defenseless audience like angels with erections, (I should point out that it was the notes that bore a resemblance to angels with erections, not my audience, my audience bore a resemblance to alien zombies just back from a shopping trip to John Wanamaker’s), a phrase from Good King Wenceslas. Back and forth. It took some puckering but I was getting such a jolt from it that I just kept going. An impromptu, improbable, Christmas happening in your face you whitebread corn pone brain dead blockhead. Something to tell your better half tonight. This guy, he was whistling two Christmas carols at the same time, it was weird. Rahsaan Roland Kirk, this is my Christmas present to you. A tribute to the immensity of your spirit. A little duty-free gift for the traveler. Roland Kirk, God rest his soul, should there be one, and if there is, fuck you pal, I’m tired of carrying water, do you hear me, was a wonderful jazz musician who, among other amazing feats too numerous to go into here, although I’m tempted, often played two saxophones at the same time.

When I hit the end of my number, lightheaded from the expenditure of breath, I headed for the door. I scanned the faces for responses. Some grins, mostly from the souls living closer to the cliffs. Some scowls. If they can’t take a joke, throw them the hell off the bus. Some good old-fashioned confusion, what does it mean? But I felt good. I knew I’d nailed it to the wall. Alistair’s extra-normal tribute to Christmas. Alistair, the man who plays flute, saxophone and train station. I hit the door without any slatch, no stationmaster’s condemnation. A perfectly executed piece of performance art. Out the door he goes.

Prunella Entwhistle Visits The Highlands

glen coe prunella highlands

Many years ago my (then) girlfriend, let’s call her Prunella Entwhistle, and I took a vacation to Scotland so she could meet the relatives and eat haggis.

A dyed-in-the-wool Romantic, Prunella adored art and was an amateur sculptor. Enthusiastic and impulsive by nature, she was given to moments of inspiration infrequently preceded by rational deliberation. The vacation progressed well and we crisscrossed the Scottish highlands in a rented Mini, lodging modestly in tiny towns with names like Auchnagallin, Kearvaig, and Cave of Smoo.

One morning, as we were leaving the latest in a long line of B&Bs, I firmly gripped the handles of our suitcases to take them downstairs for packing into the Mini. Doing so gave me the distinct impression that our suitcases did not wish to come along.

Flummoxed and put off in a way unique to people trying to break camp and get going, I raised the bags slowly – they had definitely put on weight. I was then reminded of a nagging suspicion I’d had – and ignored – for days, that either I was becoming weaker or the bags were getting heavier.

Impatient and irritated I opened them up to determine if this was real or some dreadful hallucination. There, carefully wrapped and stashed inside Prunella’s sweaters, shirts, and trousers were half-a-dozen large stones, souvenirs of the Highlands. I was horrified, but it was about to get worse.

I also discovered several whiskey bottles that had been filled with water from mountain springs. As I realized I’d been carrying this dead weight up and down stairs – and was expected to carry it through various airport terminals – the blood began to rise like mercury in a thermometer.

Later, after I’d vented sufficiently to make continued travel possible, Prunella revealed her “artistic” plan to install a little garden in our Pennsylvania home featuring Scottish rocks and water. I shook my head in quiet disbelief, wishing for a witness to confirm the depths of my suffering.

To live is to accumulate baggage. It pays to have a good look through the contents every now and again; some beliefs, assessments, values, etc. may have outlived their usefulness. As to dragging around somebody else’s insanity, well, enough is enough.

Study Links Bipolar Disorder, Genius, Creativity & Idiocy

Portraits In Stupidity - Bare-chested At The Top Of The World

If you’ve ever met an actual genius – or worse – if you are one – you know that: those in need of garden-variety stupidity are advised to seek out a moron – but – those in search of world-class idiocy should go the extra mile and track down a genius.

“Those who believe that intelligence alone can cure all ills possess either too little of it or to much.” Taz Mopula

The link between Manic Depression and intelligence has been widely discussed, as has the link between Manic Depression and creativity. Because the illness has a genetic component, descending through generations like a toxic heirloom, this cannot be considered exactly shocking.

“Sometimes it seems like the inmates are running the asylum. Then again, would a sane person want that job?” Taz Mopula

The net is that, intelligence and artistic creativity track higher among Bipolars than the general population. This does not mean that all Bipolars are brilliant and creative – that would be like saying that all alcoholics are great writers simply because many great writers are alcoholics.

“If you need mania to be creative, then maybe creativity isn’t for you.” Taz Mopula

(By the way, I’ve tried this myself – trust me – becoming an alcoholic does not make you a great writer. I was horrified to learn that the only way to become a great writer is by becoming a great writer, which, I assure you, involves a lot more effort than becoming an alcoholic.)

“Writing is the easiest part of being a writer; the most difficult part is becoming a writer.” Taz Mopula

One thing I’ve observed over a decade of meetings in church basements is that – there are a lot of really brilliant, successful, charming, creative alcoholics. As we say, “It was my best thinking that bought me this chair.” Likewise, there are many brilliant – genius level – crackerpants coocoobirds in mental hospitals, prisons, and cemeteries.

“Learn humility first; all the other important lessons come so much more easily when you do.” Taz Mopula

For both groups, intelligence and success pose the greatest obstacle to recovery. Convinced of their own superiority to others, these hubris-stoked, arrogant twits believe they are equipped to master whatever comes their way, even life’s most bizarre, horrific challenges. They are too smart to realize how incredibly stupid they are being.

“To live happily it either is or is not essential that one learns to embrace self-contradictory concepts.” Taz Mopula

A mentally ill person – whether Bipolar, alcoholic, or both – that believes in the mythology of self-sufficiency – who is actually willing to risk it all on his ability to scale Everest alone in his underwear – is no mere dimwit – that takes world-class stupidity. For that you need a genius.

One For The Money

Even The Greatest Paintings Are Flat

“Take no prisoners!” That’s what legendary singer Billy Paul used to tell his band right before going on stage.

I’ve been a performer all my life, singer, poet, comedian, lecturer, maniacal street celebrity. (HIDEOUS DETAILS AVAILABLE HERE).

For much of what I laughingly refer to as “my career” I regarded assassins as the apex of professionalism – heartless and methodical, all business, all technique.

Over the years my attitude about performance has transformed, closely tracking my recovery.

At first I thought of “the act” as a mask I clung onto with white knuckles, until one could not tell where it ended and my face began.

As I became more comfortable and facile in front of a crowd, moving with glib, even condescending confidence, I polished the mask until it shone so brightly even the people sitting in the very last row needed sunglasses.

Then something happened, I grew more confident still and suddenly craft and “art” became less fascinating.

I must credit a few very special people for carrying me across the river; by watching these world class artists perform I discovered that craft is only a tool.

Real art, I came to understand, lies in opening up your true self and sharing what you have, whatever it is that makes you special, whatever it is that’s unavailable anywhere else.

Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, Keith Jarrett, Sarah Vaughan, Sun Ra, and Jimi Hendrix.

When these people left the stage they didn’t take anything with them, they gave it all. All of them shared one essential quality; fearless generosity.

Craft is just something you internalize until you can forget it altogether and be yourself – cool, relaxed, smile on your face – bathing in the spotlight’s unforgiving chill.

The Great Fake Art Quote Quiz

campbell soup

Ours is a slovenly age where being loudest actually trumps being right. Long before I discovered Taz Mopula, whose sage utterances so frequently grace these virtual pages, it became evident to me that misattribution of quotes had reached epidemic proportions.

Today, the time is fast approaching when Chuck E. Cheese will be getting credit for, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

In an attempt to return decorum, and intellectual good faith, to the practice of quoting exceptional people for general edification, I have gathered some profound observations on the subject of art. Your challenge is to locate the disingenuous one(s). Good luck!

“Mediocre art misrepresents reality; great art obliterates it.” Leroy Neiman

“My fondest wish is that I have contributed nothing to the art world.” Andy Warhol

“Fear is the motivating force behind all great art. Artists achieve greatness not because they set out to, but because they desperately fear mediocrity.” Pier Paolo Pasolini

“The great triumph of art is its purposelessness.” Salvador Dali

“Critics are to artists as cats are to fish; fascinated by their movements up to the very moment they devour them.” Pablo Picasso

“It is art, not science, that most convincingly shores up the imaginary wall allowing Man to believe he is qualitatively superior to the lower beasts.” Samuel Beckett

“When you find an enterprise for which there is no satisfactory category, all that remains is to call it Art.” Christo Vladimirov Javacheff

“To ensure success, always treat your audience the way you would treat a retarded baby.” Alfred Hitchcock

“In a perfect world there would be no art; it would be superfluous.” Jackson Pollock

“Paint, musical notes, and words are not the raw materials of art; the raw materials of art are fear, resentment, and free time.” Albert Camus

“Art may be best understood as the shortest distance from Point A to Point B in all cases when Point A resides in the material realm – therefore enabling it to be proscribed by sensory analysis – and Point B resides in a realm which is at once unknown and unknowable.” Jean Paul Sartre

“The artist is not compelled to earn the audience’s respect; quite the contrary, it is the responsibility of the audience to erode the contempt naturally felt for it by the artist.” Richard Wagner

“The difference between lavatory attendants and art critics is that lavatory attendants provide a valuable service to society.” Rene Magritte

Contact me for answers.

Fear Is A Revolving Door; Fate’s A Boulevard

ian mcharg

My late father, Ian McHarg, was ensconced in Who’s Who before I made it into high school; by the time I went to college he’d been featured in LIFE Magazine. Later on, President H.W. Bush presented him with The National Medal of Arts and the government of Japan gave him a lifetime achievement award that came with a million dollar check. Not bad for a poor kid from Glasgow.

Breath, fame, and fortune have all vanished like mist on a lake, leaving me to sort it out. Though dismissive on the subject of celebrity, he craved it like an addict in an alley; and like that addict, no amount of more was ever enough. As they say, “nothing recedes like success” – and my father chased a steady stream of students, fans, and sycophants.

After the latest Wall Street Journal cover story or TV chat show guest appearance he’d regale me with insider celebrity tidbits in such a way as to demonstrate how little it all meant to him. Even then I knew the smell of horseshit, but I pretended to take him seriously all the same.

“One day, Alistair” he would say, “I will come to be known not as Ian McHarg but as the father of Alistair McHarg.”

In these rare moments of camaraderie we laughed heartily, enjoying this preposterous fiction as if there was a scrap of authenticity to it. The fact was, no one rose above my father and lived to tell of it.

I traveled under a double curse; as his son I was expected to reflect his glory but always defer to it. Had I attempted to surpass him I would have been crushed. And so, I turned my anger inwards and set out upon a life of self-destruction, depression, alcoholism, and failure. (You might be surprised to learn that real failure requires dedication.)

“Disingenuous self-deprecation is an especially distasteful manifestation of vanity.” Taz Mopula

Fear defined my entire relationship with him. Fear of failure, fear of success. Since the lesson one refuses to learn constantly re-presents itself, I was stuck in a revolving door. One day the door had had enough and spat me out as contemptuously as a fish rejecting a lure. I was left only with fate – and fate had plans for me that did not include ruin. There was service in my future.

This poem, Winter Birds, is recent, and tracks this father and son act back to the days when he would impress me into service in the garden, moving rocks, transplanting trees, stealing ferns from the woods. No man ever worked harder to make nature more perfect than it already is.

When it was done I reread it and understood at last how, finally able to see him life-sized, and honor him accordingly, I really am free to let fate have its way with me. I don’t know if there is anyone left who remembers his contributions but I do know this – I will never again think of him as Ian McHarg. He is the father of Alistair McHarg, which, from my vantage point, is a far greater accomplishment.

Winter Birds

My father was a foreigner no matter where he went
I stumbled in the shadow of his odyssey, shifting lands
And languages like agents on a mission, hiding in
Plain sight for all to see and none to know

He had to add a garden onto every new address
Pencil scratching paper scrap, knees upon the earth
Ferns and bricks and gravel paths, ponds and rhododendrons
Sprawled upon the ground like a flamboyant signature

He taught me the gentle ceremony, sapling uprooted
Burlap, fingers, spade, bearing it away to meet
Unfamiliar soil, transplanted, reaching to embrace the sun
And rain so it could drive its roots into the earth, like anchors

Water blessed, nested, tree we would admire how the sweat
Of our labors had borne fruit, then, flash of lightning like
Bird appeared to grasp a branch and claim possession of it
As if he had been watching us, aching for the chance

My father never told me that, without the weight, hollow bones
And feathers, nervous eyes alert, one small bird swaying
On a slender branch, earth itself, unbalanced, would wander
From its axis and vanish in the cold expanse of space

Alistair McHarg

CLICK HERE TO ORDER BOOKS WRITTEN BY ALISTAIR McHARG (Do NOT Click Here To Order Books By Ian McHarg)