From the essay 'Against Mastery' found at The Hedgehog Review, voicing a rarely heard critique of modern medical science:

How, for one, will we make sense of death if it comes to be viewed as something with no intrinsic meaning, but chiefly as a piece of bad luck, a matter of bad timing—the misfortune, for example, of contracting the disease before the march of inevitable medical progress had caught up with it? Or worse, how can we ever be reconciled to death when it becomes understood as something almost entirely accidental, and largely preventable? 
Do we imagine that complete control over our biological fates will necessarily make us happier? Perhaps it will. But one can as easily imagine that there might be little room for uninhibited joy or exuberance in such a world. More likely it will be a tightly wound world, saturated with bitterness and anxiety and mutual suspicion, in which life and health will be guarded with all the ferocity of Ebenezer Scrooge guarding his money. Growing mastery means growing responsibility, and the need to assign blame, since nothing happens by chance. Some of the blame will be directed at the parents, politicians, doctors, and celebrities who make plausible villains, or conspiracy theories that explain why someone else is always at fault. But much of the blame will devolve upon ourselves, since in being set free to choose so much about our lives, we will have no one else to blame when we make a complete mess of things.  
No, there is good reason to fear that the more our lives are prolonged and powers extended, and the more death becomes seen as an avoidable evil whose precise moment should be “chosen,” rather than an inherent feature of human life, the more common it will be to encounter people who live imprisoned by their fear of all risk, since the possible consequences of any risk will seem too vast, too horrible, and too fully avoidable, to be contemplated.  
That such a world would drain human life of dignity and spiritedness is not hard to imagine..... 

[via wood s lot]



For me there is no materiality to apparent materiality. In our bodies, 3 billion cells a minute are dying and being reborn. So our bodies look solid, but they aren't. How many minutes have just gone by and how many cells have died and been reborn? We're like a fountain. A fountain of water looks solid, but you can put your fingers right through it. Our bodies look like things, but there's no thingness to them. 
-- Li-Young Lee

[via return to the center]



Andrew & Noah Band

Brown Rice Family


The Duhks


Dixon's Violin

....magic eye art....


...magical totem art... 

Felix Y Los Gatos

...main stage foxtrot...

Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate

Josh Davis

Peter Rowan

Sekou Kouyate

wall art
[34th Annual Blissfest Music Festival; Harbor Springs, MI]

Many, many other great performers and artists! Photos 
are limited to what I could pull off with my portable 
Nikon camera during a fun filled and dusty loose weekend.
Names of performers include active links to their websites.


Ancient Subterranean Fires
--Elizabeth Willis 
When I crossed the road, I burned with the heat of its traffic. Time as movement, a government of rushes. All those itching satellites, blind among the dreaming guns. A bee in its lace is the author of something. Easy work is out there, just beyond the mines. A cab into heroic legend, the first of its kind. To look back on gasoline as hoof and leaf. A moving eye, scrolling through the weeds. Just another carnivore frozen at the spring. As dirty as heaven, a skeleton key.


Verses Omitted By Mistake
--Elizabeth Willis 
Were I invited
to draft that flower 
an unfixed wilder thing
would fix upon my palm 
Those wolves are numbered
to a government rifle 
If Lucy rules
the castle of indolence 
I joy to dream
a more fortunate planet


Belief in Magic
-- Dean Young 
How could I not?
Have seen a man walk up to a piano
and both survive.
Have turned the exterminator away.
Seen lipstick on a wine glass not shatter the wine.
Seen rainbows in puddles.
Been recognized by stray dogs.
I believe reality is approximately 65% if.
All rivers are full of sky.
Waterfalls are in the mind.
We all come from slime.
Even alpacas.
I believe we’re surrounded by crystals.
Not just Alexander Vvedensky.
Maybe dysentery, maybe a guard’s bullet did him in.
I believe there are many kingdoms left.
The Declaration of Independence was written with a feather.
A single gem has throbbed in my chest my whole life
even though
even though this is my second heart....

[via poetry foundation]


[ Song of the Wood Thrush ; Charles Burchfield (1950) ]


Everything is natural. The light on your fingertips is starlight. Life begins with coiling — molecules and nebulae. Cruelty, selfishness, and vanity are boring. Each self is many selves. Reason is beauty. Light and darkness are arbitrary divisions. Cleanliness is as undefinable and as natural as filth. The physiological body is pure spirit. Monotony is madness. The frontier is both outside and inside. The universe is the messiah. The senses are gods and goddesses. Where the body is — there are all things.  
--Michael McClure


--Albert Goldbarth 
En route to the Earth—that's
the pure part, that's when the light
of the Sun is uncontaminated
and in its richest glory. And then 
it arrives here, and it necessarily
dwindles and thins: becomes that leaf,
this lake, the dazzle off cars in traffic,
my wife asleep in the sheets. 
Dickens points out that water in which
the goldsmiths washed their hands was sold
to refiners, having a secondary,
yet still impressive, value.

[via poetry daily]


He was a wise man who invented beer. ~Plato..................
[Huma Lupa Licious IPA; Short's Brewing Co., Bellaire, MI]..............


From the essay by Susan Elizabeth Howe, 'May Swenson's Spiritual Quest':

As early as her college years, she told her friend, "religion... seems like redundancy for a poet", implying that the work of the poet somehow overlaps with or is similar to the wold of religion. In "The Poet as Antispecialist" in 1965, Swenson quoted Aldous Huxley: "The world is poetical intrinsically, and what it means is simply itself. Its significance is the enormous mystery of its existence and of our awareness of its existence". She then elaborated further:

We or what are we? Why are we? And what are we becoming? What is the relationship between man and the universe? Those are questions that ached in the mind of the first poet. They can be said to have created the first poet, and to be the source of the art of poetry. Does the fact of our consciousness, unique and seemingly miraculous among all of nature's creatures, a priori indicate a superconsciousness shaping and manipulating the cosmos?


Beginning Ended
-- May Swenson 
Beginning ended, this is how the end begins.
We wake in the other world, sky inside our eyelid.
Lens swivelled inward, the sea's volcanic vents
leach into the brain. Here is self's jungle ajar.
Waterfall that sliced a mountain's
loaf in half flattens to a lake. A trickle of gems
from a pomegranate's cave is a red bedspread
where, black and white, the Swancat floats.
A chessboard on an iceflow, slow, swirls by.
The King and Queen arrive with retinue. And now,
small as pills, balls yellow and blue, chock through
white wickets over squares shaved velvet green.
The day is perfect. There is only one. It lasts
a thousand years. Years are thinnest pages
in a book, vast as a continent, heavy, sunk in sand.
At sunset, the end began, brain's
forest roars up into flame. Cool skull, a moon
releases, tumbles onto the marble table of night,
rolls over the edge.


Slowly as from the center of some diamond
You begin to take in the world as it moves
In toward you, part of its own burden of thought, rather
Idle musing, afternoons listing toward some sullen
Unexpected end. Seen from inside all is
Abruptness. As though to get out your eye
Sharpens and sharpens these particulars; no
Longer visible, they breathe in multicolored
Parentheses the way love in short periods
Puts everything out of focus, coming and going.

Thus your only world is an inside one
Ironically fashioned out of external phenomena
Having no rhyme or reason, and yet neither
An existence independent of foreboding and sly grief.
Nothing anybody says can make a difference; inversely
You are a victim of their lack of consequence
Buffeted by invisible winds, or yet a flame yourself
Without meaning, yet drawing satisfaction
From the crevices of that wind, living
In that flame’s idealized shape and duration.

-- from 'Fragment'; John Ashbery


Because life is short
We must remember to keep asking it the same question
Until the repeated question and the same silence become answer
In words broken open and pressed to the mouth
And the last silence reveal the lining
Until at last this thing exist separately
At all levels of the landscape and in the sky
And in the people who timidly inhabit it
The locked name for which is open, to dust and to no thoughts
Even of dying, the fuzzy first thought that gets started in you and then
........there’s no stopping it.
It is so much debris of living, and as such cannot be transmitted
Into another, usable substance, but is irreducible
From these glares and stony silences and sharp-elbowed protests.
But it is your landscape, the proof that you are there,
To deal with or be lost in
In which the silent changes might occur.

-- from 'The New Spirit' ; John Ashbery


.................We are measured
by vastness beyond ourselves.
Dark is light.
Stone is rising. 
I don’t know
if humankind understands
culture: the act
of being human
is not easy knowledge. 
.......................Lean into me.
.......................The universe
sings in quiet meditation....... 

...............................................And the stone wall
I lean upon spins me
wordless and silent
to the reach of stars
and to the heavens within. 
It’s not humankind after all
nor is it culture
that limits us.
It is the vastness
we do not enter.
It is the stars
we do not let own us. 
-- from 'Culture and the Universe'; Simon Ortiz


[ Man from Warkeika ; Rico Rodriguez (1977) ]

Recorded in Kingston, Jamaica and understood to be the only roots reggae album released on Blue Note Records; essential.


From a 2011 interview in GuernicaThe Harmonizer ):

Kwame Dawes: My quest has been about trying to understand the genius of this musical phenomenon that has somehow effectively taken the world by storm—a music created in the tiny island of Jamaica. This is powerful and I have sought to understand and to allow the principles I have seen in the music to help shape my aesthetic as a writer. 
Guernica: An entire worldview. 
Kwame Dawes: In reggae I have a model of artistic excellence and possibility that is challenging and inspiring. The poem remains a demanding thing—an object to be understood and shaped into my own sense of self, the same is true of the play, the novel, the short story. Yet, for some reason, I approach these existing genres with the kind of confidence that the reggae artist approaches any song floating around out there. By reggae-fying those songs, they demonstrate that there is such a thing as a reggae ethos. This is extremely exciting to me. Understanding the reggae aesthetic is essential to successfully enjoy and appreciate my work.... 
Guernica: You’ve defined the “reggae aesthetic” as engaging the spiritual, political, sensual, historical, and lyrical all at the same time. 
Kwame Dawes: Yes. This has granted me a certain kind of poetic permission to write work that is all of these things and yet that is grounded in a sense of place and a time. For me, reggae music and its aesthetic are touchstones in both simple and complex ways. Reggae’s capacity to be a folk music that is created in a wholly modern context of the recording studio (and sometimes that is the sole performance space) is riddled with the kinds of contradictory impulses that we have come to expect from the post-modern. I revel in this, for it gives me, shall I say, permission.


Culture is flux. Flux is culture. Absolute spirit.
Is spirit absolutely true? Heart is not history. Heart of stone.
Heart is the fire caught-up within my bones.

Heart is prophecy frothing to the stomp and rattle
of the gospeler's Sunday. Heart is the word spoken
so deep in the stomach, so jealously protective of my soul.

Heart is my eye peering into our collective pasts
and, finding that ancient shrine in some broken hut,
drawing me. I arrive a stranger. I arrive dead. Sleep

never comes easy, for the trees of the mountain sanctuary
rustle their hymns, calling me back, calling me back.
Flux is culture. Culture is flux. We are changing inside.

-- from 'Prophets'; Kwame Dawes


[ Lee "Scratch" Perry ]
There would be no wailing songs
without the madness of Scratch Perry; 
none of the wild weirdness of Kaya,
none of the leap of images, enigmatic 
mysteries like scripture; none of the miracle
of guitars twined each on each, 
without the man, with his fired
brain and fingers of brilliant innovation 
tweaking the nine-track sound board,
teasing out new ways to see heaven. 
There would be nothing of the crucifixion,
no resurrection repeated each time another 
reggae operator is born, again, again,
no revolution without the locust-eating .....prophet. 
-- from 'Trickster II'; Kwame Dawes


An undeniable love for the river drew us away from town and down to the shore; the boat we built there was to carry us into a new existence. This regeneration gave a direction to our lives.... 

Thus shantyboating has become, for us, a point of view, a way of looking at the world and at life. You take neither of them too seriously, nor do you try to understand their complexities. Who can? It is an obviously illogical philosophy, in which the individual is supreme. The claims made on him by his inner beliefs are above the demands of society. He is not without compassion, but his love is expended on those of his fellow men he is in contact with. With no schemes for universal betterment, he tends his own garden.

Is this selfish? No. The selfish man wants more than his share, a higher seat at the table than he is entitled to. One strong enough to stand by himself is not attracted by the prizes which the world offers. He has his own values, receives other rewards, for which there is no competition.

Instead of trying to make everyone alike, the state and society should encourage individualism. Individuals will never be too numerous; in fact, they are becoming harder to find. The river shantyboater has passed away, along with the old river; yet a few renegades will always be found, out in the brush somewhere, or on a forgotten bit of river shore, content with an environment the proud would scorn. The shantyboat strain is not likely to be cultivated out of existence, any more than the earth will ever be completely subdued.

.........--Harlan Hubbard


Earth Your Dancing Place
-- May Swenson 
Beneath heaven’s vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life 
Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture 
Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs 
Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place


Haiku- Spring 2014

return of the sun,
script in the shadows 
prophesy blossoms

forceful swell
in the drain ditch
where children play

all those months
drinking with my ghosts-
now with sparrows

midnight kitten
dancing on the tile floor
with his own moon

hard-strung thoughts
until a night rain streams
it all away clean

empty breeze-
new buds green-
memory of nothing

azalea’s magenta
in scent of hyacinths-
for a day or two

weeping willow bows
down to cherry blossoms,
down unto earth

lunging through life
on a rainy day- fluid
pigments of spring

beyond windows
of thought, a toss
of mud and sun

chalice tulip,
yes you can hold
a full week of sun


The most sophisticated people I know......... 
inside, they are all children........


Tree you are,
Moss you are,
You are violets with wind above them.
A child - so high - you are,
And all this is folly to the world. 
-- Ezra Pound