Mountains (a sequence of poems)
Coming to Mountains
Poetry seems bound to come, always,
eventually to sunsets, oceans, trees, sky
and especially mountains. They are froth,
yellowing spume cast on the beach, looking
so solid, these mountains (what a mouth-filling
resonance, how mountainously sturdy the sound
of mountain!), like lumps of protean protein
powder heaving up out of apple juice before
I turn on the blender.
I used to make mountains in the sandbox
(you have to get the sand real wet)
and dig tunnels through them. Fun
to imagine sand become solid, tiny become huge,
what can't be touched with more than gentlest pat
of a child's palm become what boulders
can bounce down.
Starting from the other direction (the top),
how odd that these vast permanences can blow up,
erupt, return to molten, revealing theselves
as hesitant bubbles in a drying crust (hot
cherry pie!). There's a mountain in Mexico
that, only 80 years ago, was a corn field.
But why must poetry come to mountains? Because
we'd like to last, we'd like to see forever and
we'd like to erupt (people screaming as they flee
hot streams of language).
Well, if the mountainous won't come to my poetry,
my poetry will become mountainous, papers piled
to the ceiling, bursting the room, the house,
paper-cutting the sky, Mount Never-rest.
The Frailty of Mountains
Yesterday Public TV harped on the fragility
of Mt. Rainier, its porous, flaky crust
(sounds delicious, lava lovers),
what it will do not long from now
when it lets off steam and rock and ash.
Mountains are young, vigorous and unstable,
the earth's erections stirred to peak experiences,
not yet exhausted, only briefly flaccid,
peacefully smoking afterwards.
Mountains are young, but the hills
are as old as the hills. Old enough
for wind and water and fire to wear down
a mountain range, smooth all its edges
to rounded green velvet. And when the hills
wear down, and when the desert wears down --
nothing is older than nothing at all.
But while the mountain stands tall, and I,
atop it (in body or thought) looking out
over the nothing that is everything, I almost
fall into myself.
The Mountain Diet
My poet friend speaks of eating mountains --
PTUI! PTUI! PTUI! She is SO behind the times.
Sure, it was a fad, Dr. Jurassicovitch's
High Mineral Himalayan Diet (big with poets
in the 1820s), but new research has demolished that,
as well as the foolishness about munching on
pine forests for roughage, though they are
useful for absorbing excessive buttery grease
But now we know that mountains aren't good for us:
They are polluted by tons of moonlight -- you can
smell it, and it's hard to wash out. Moonlight
is full of radical freedoms that break down
our cell walls. Besides, it's unnatural to eat
the mountains alone. You don't see just mountains
all by themselves in nature; no, mountains always
come attached to something, usually planets, and,
really, only an entire planet can provide
the whole-food, balanced diet you need.
Eating a planet will give you a great deal
of salty water to help dissolve all those
heavy mountain minerals. If God had wanted us
to eat just the mountains, He wouldn't have
attached them to planets. So if you must
eat mountains, eat them as part of a complete
balanced diet of rich, live, sea-girt worlds.
Li Po said, "We sit together, the mountain and
until only the mountain remains."
Unlike Li Po, I don't suck up to mountains;
any mountains that sit with me (a peak experience
for them) vanish, as I swell up with them,
having sucked them up by Li Po suction.