gary snyder | civilization

3 12 2007


Poetry Dispatch No.163 | April 22, 2007

It’s Earth Day today.
Step outside, wherever you are, look to the heavens..
Close your eyes.
Breathe deeply…
Hold the moment.
Say, “Ah…”

What was it the old Zen Master said?
We must understand “the ahhhhh of things.”

I stand outside the coop this moment, the world about me swathed in sunshine, temperature hovering around 55 degrees, the air alive with the sound of wind rippling through bare branches and swaying trees…white birch, pine, maple, beech, iron wood…in chorus, in harmony.

Birds call. The wind answers. Stones bask silently in light.

The earth, still covered in dead brown, crisp-curled leaves of fall, stirs in short whispers of green …grass, weed, moss, dandelion spears …foreshadowing color to come — trout lily and dandelion yellow, wood violet, the trumpeting white trillium.

I sit momentarily on a small bench outside the coop, the dog asleep beside me in the sun…I sip black coffee from an old mug made in the New Mexican desert many moons ago, hold the whole day, the whole earth here in my hands, the sparkling blue lake waters in the distance, such sacred music in the wind.

Earth Day, 2007. A week to be celebrated in poetry and prose …Poetry Dispatch and Notes from the Underground.

Here’s the first dispatch for this earthy day…Norbert Blei



There are those people who do complicated things.
they’ll grab us by the thousands
and put us to work.
World’s going to hell, with all these
villages and trails.
Wild duck flocks aren’t
what they used to be.
Aurochs grow rare.

Fetch me my feathers and amber.


A small cricket
on the typescript page of
“Kyoto born in spring song”
grooms himself
in time with The Well-Tempered Clavier.
I quit typing and watch him through a glass.
How well articulated! How neat!

Nobody understands the ANIMAL KINGDOM.


When creeks are full
The poems flow
When creeks are down
We heap stones.

from REGARDING WAVE, New Directions, 1970