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Feb 7, 2022

Dear Blog Followers,

You may have given up on my posting here if you have noticed at all. When I moved from Albuquerque to Ashland 13 years ago, my inner muse was awakened, perhaps by genetic memory of my birth in that quaint mountain town? I was on fire to write for the local Ashland Tidings a number of essays which were published. But mainly I was moved to pen poems, releasing a torrent of relatively revelatory recalls from my decadent past, all posted to this. Blog. The experience was cathartic to say the least. But since Terry and I got the call from Taos Mountain to move to Taos, quite suddenly summer of 2018, I am reinventing myself or perhaps simply taking a writing hiatus. I am beginning to feel the urge to purge again in verbal reminiscence. Will you see more poems or essays in this space in months to come? I don’t know yet, but feel compelled to let those of you who signed up for my posts know I am still alive and well and learning to adapt once again to retirement back in the Enchanted Land. Stay tuned.
Love from Julian

Darlingtonia

7th Annual Southern Oregon Poetry Award, Second Prize, 2012

As I drive toward
the Oregon coast
a sign by the road
pulls me: Darlingtonia fen

Footsteps crunch chips
in pine-scented woods
rustle of leaves
bird whistles
coo-coo-ca-too

Pitcher plants proliferate
sucking flies to
their final meal
drawn by musky scent
to a poisonous stew
of mesmerizing liquid

Cobra lilies lie in wait
caped carnivores in
silent reverie of death
trap bugs in lazy languor

Sun filtered shadows
cross my path
as insects buzz
around hooded hosts
silently awaiting their prey

I walk though misty forest
curious at the play of life and death
in oasis of carnivorous plants
insects dance, drown
humans observe, move on

©2011 Julian Spalding

Covid

Covid grabbed me by the throat
threw me down, took me,
its goal: to make me surrender.

Isolated, it took me into and beyond my fear.
it took me into and outside of myself,
into my fear of separateness,
into my fear of non-being.

into the realm of everything
that separates me from life.
It felt like an initiation.

On the other side I found
a new sense of joy

What!? Joy in Covid? Yes
it’s a Messenger sent
to wake me/us up to the
futility of living in search
of that which is ephemeral.

Covid took me on a journey
an exploration, showed me my fear
then released me to be stronger
more resolute.

I’ve been waiting for a New Life
here in Taos, waiting, waiting
for direction.
Covid is a Teacher, but also a Destroyer.
Covid is Kali, the Devil and an Angel.

Covid is coming for you.
Covid is coming for all of us.
Covid is not content to let us
ignore its message.

Covid is implacable, unrelenting,
determined.
Are we paying attention?

If not, Covid will be back
ever more determined.

—Julian Spalding

BELTANE

Festival of vitality, fertility
harbinger of summer
earth racing to its peak
trees leafing
flowers blooming,
crops sowing
birds laying
animals birthing.

Bright, shining One
ancient Celtic god
return to earth
bring magic back
commit your seed to the ground
the ground of being.
bless us with renewal.

Fire festival, celebrate
the coming of warm time.
erase boundaries between
our world and the Otherworld.
fairy folk roam freely
enchanting all who hear.

Holy wells, morning dew
charmed to be sure.
celebrate fertility,
fuck the fields,
dance the Maypole
impregnated earth
with your seed.

Hawthorn blossoms
the May tree, the fairy tree.
inhabited by fairies
protected by guardians.

Celebrate fertility
celebrate love
bloom\bring the summer in,
yellow summer of clear
bright daisies.

—Julian Spalding, with a nod to Sharon Blackie

You knock on the open door of my heart
My flower blossoms when you enter.

Your rod and staff comforts me,
Giver of life.

Together we glorify creation.
Your hardness touches my softness.

You answer my question with
Your plunge of desire.

You burst through my door in your
Thrust of urgency.

We wash each other clean with
Our ministrations

There is holy union when we are one.
We dissolve into Shiva’s lingam of desire.

You are eager to part my portal.
Let the wind of our desire

Drench us, drunk on the nectar
Of the gods.

Bathe in my Sacred Pool.
Slake your thirst at my altar.

We tremble in the Presence.
In the jaws of the tiger.

I am the fertile valley ready to be
Planted with your seed.
I have never published my erotic poetry on my blog, but I decided to post one that I like. Perhaps you will relate. I consider sexual connection to be sacred, not just prurient, but that too. All human expression is to be savored and cherished. I will be interested to see if I lose some subscribers…. or find a new audience. It’s an experiment! Why not?

When I look back at the places I’ve lived over the past 70 years—California, Oregon and New Mexico—each place has had its own underlying tone, revealing itself in the form of a lesson, a way of being in the world, that I needed very much to learn.

As Sharon Blackie writes in Mythic Imagination (Facebook group), “There are various instruments that play their part in fashioning the song of each place: geology, flora, fauna, weather, the skyscape, topography, folkloric and mythical beings and motifs, stories told by its human inhabitants … some bright and upbeat; others, discordant, heavy, but they lodge right in the heart of you anyway.”

I’m still learning the song of this place called Taos. Perhaps it’s the fabled “Taos Hum,” but I think it’s much deeper. The land itself carries a song that drew me to it because it had something to teach me about myself.

In the Enchanted Life (book), Blackie writes, “We think that we imagine the land, but perhaps the land imagines us, and in its imaginings it shapes us. The exterior landscape interacts with our interior landscape, and in the resulting entanglements, we become something more than we otherwise could ever hope to be.”

Something about Taos drew me and my husband to this land, not to impose my interior landscape on it, but rather to draw me to itself, interacting with my interior landscape, and in that process, changing us both.

My husband told me recently of a conversation he had with a Taos Pueblo friend who said he was hiking in the Weimer foothills and was approached by a sheriff who asked what he was doing there. It occurred to the Native man that someone had been alarmed at his presence and reported him. He commented, “they moved here and they don’t know where they are.”

Where they are, where I am, is on ancient pueblo Indian land. I am a visitor. Not all immigrants to this land understand where they are. I try to listen to the tones of this place, to be impacted by its mystery, by the mountain, by the land, by the Gorge that splits the valley in half.

Long time Hispanic residents speak of “querencia,” the love of the land that nurtures and changes us so that we become more than we were when we arrived. Many outsiders make no attempt to adapt to this place, but rather try to make it like something they are familiar with. While I also bring my expectations and privileges to my life in Taos, I also wish to allow the land to change me by “lodging in my heart.”

Others who made Taos their home decades ago also feel the pull of the land which has shaped them according to the hum of the mountain, the pulse of the Rio Grande, the clarity of the sky and the rich cultural heritage of the indigenous past and the Hispanic presence superimposed over its ancient being. May the song of this place work its magic to impact every newcomer like myself to learn to love this land and allow its nature to change us. I am humbled and honored to begin to know were I am living in this magnificent valley.

Julian Spalding
February 2022

.

Poetry

You say pouring out my heart
is not poetry.
Then I ask what is?
Is it poetry to walk with a sign
yelling about jesus?
whispering sweet nothings
to your lover?
making rhymes in colder climes?

I say poetry is a tempest in a teapot
a calamity in the nursery
the dissolution of a marriage
the death of a child
a heartbeat stilled in the prime of life
the pain of a life lived in vain

Who are you to say what isn’t poetry?
My life is poetry
words swallowing words
ouroborous without
beginning or end

I can say anything.
It’s my life expressed
just this way.
It’s poetry if I read my shopping list

My poetry is my story.
I will never tell someone
not to tell their story.
Tell your story
however you can

Tell it with a poem,
with a song, with your life
but tell your story.

My life is to heal my wounds
offer my gift, offer my heart

My story is a poem.
Your story is a poem.
Someone needs to hear it

© Julian Spalding ©2011

Mystic Warrior

[This poem was written as ekphrasis for this image of a sculpture by Rafael Vega at Dragonfly Blue Gallery, Taos, New Mexico.]

Visitor from beyond time,
feathered turtle-horse
from jungle and desert:
macaw, saguaro, bovine.

Cohoba shaman of cosmic vision,
green serpentine converser with gods.
Emerald forest shapeshifter.

Wooden cow creature, you don’t fool me,
you come to change everything.
Your spear of truth severs my head,
stone beads cover my heart,
dead and living worlds collide,
the dead world dissolves
into world of ancestor and spirit.

Wrap me in your wooden arms,
suck out the world,
tear me apart,
infuse me with knowledge,
put me back together,
new, alive, eager.

Julian Spalding ©2019

more haiku

Sagebrush shimmers
in high desert wind
The dog sniffs

Adobe abode shelters
New Mexico enchantment
Return to the desert

Clear blue high desert sky
Backdrop to magic land
Enchanted place of my dreams

High desert sage and piñon
crackling logs in fireplace
Calling me to put down roots

Piñon, cedar, aspen
Fuel for winter fires
Warms fragile bodies

New Mexico haiku

The residue of my presence
lingers like a ghost in Ashland,
now a desert dweller

Once Ashland, land of my birth
now the high desert:
homebound once again

Madrone and manzanita
took root in my mind,
now sagebrush and cactus