YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

April 2009

VOL XVII, Issue 4, Number 192

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401



The Listening Trees

By Henry Avignon 


I     First Snow
II    The Bel Tree
III   The Minotaur Tree
IV    The Flaming Tree
V     The Peepal Tree
VI    Tree By The Sea
VII   The Palm Tree
VIII  The Alphabet Tree
IX    The Weeping Widow
X     The Lyre Wood Tree
XI    The Evergreen Tree
XII   The Lightning Rod
XIII  The Dogwood Tree
XIV   The Hanging Tree
XV    The Cannery Tree
XVI   The Mandorla Tree
XVII  The Magnus Tree
XVIII The Mirroring Tree
XIX   The Abracadabra Tree
XX    Last Snow


XXI   The Listening Trees


The Listening Trees

By Henry Avignon 

As painful as my story is I'm sad to say that while in rehab for several months 
I heard worse over and over, hundreds of times. The path to hell is littered 
with dead and dying addicts. Many people from every walk of life are deeply 
suffering. I have received over 100 messages in private from friends on Facebook 
and around the world: truly gripping stories. 

These folks are my listening trees. I am their listening trees. 

The Listening Trees will help those people ready to listen.  The universal 
truth of addiction and recovery in general is this: it does not happen until 
the sufferer is sick of being sick and unwilling to suffer another second.   
As these poems were being written through me I felt lifted.   It's important 
to note the book was written in 7 days / sittings in a local library.  It 
came into me, a swarm of ingratiating chills.  Like an angelic comfort?  It's 
birth was unique. Speaking with my therapist I thought of him like a tree. 
That night on Facebook I said to a friend: "People who listen remind me of 
trees." Her reply was: "Then I am your listening tree."
It's incredible how much people suffer in silence.

One person, admittedly days from killing himself, asked what I could do to help 
him recover successfully.   An aching widow, whose heart of stone is crumbling 
shale, has claimed the "The Weeping Widow." A woman will quit smoking because 
of the "The Abracadabra Tree." Another woman, abandoned by her family as she 
battles for her life swears by the entire grove. The Father of a child with 
autism claimed "The Alphabet Tree." A woman who lost her young husband to the 
war in Iraq remembers their courtship was like "The Flaming Tree."

Something entirely powerful is happening that I hoped would happen.

Besides raising my two beautiful children my only life goal is to help others 
heal.  In the first several months out of the hospital I couldn't bear public 
places. I was terrified of being lured into an old haunt. To survive I woke 
each day and immediately went to the woods with my camera and walked for hours. 
I talked aloud to the trees. I confess now that I screamed, I wept, I begged 
for mercy and forgiveness until finally I lost my grip and climbed fifty feet 
into the summer air into the arms of a giant oak. I held onto that height. I 
clung to the tiniest moment of just before letting go. I sat quietly and 
imagined for nearly 3 hours that I was dead and free to be happy. I was a bird 
perched on the highest branch.  The sun was extraordinary. The wind was a rush 
of delirium that in an instant lay claim to my broken heart. I would climb 
down safely that day and have not been the same since.

I learned from the trees that we are primarily defined by sound. As a poet I 
have held the belief that in some miraculous way God is language. Symbolic 
modes and means of communication from the origin of the Universe to the 
transfer of DNA by lovers to an impending child are each instances of the 
evolution of God in Nature.   The miracle of all life is spoken through and 
around the known and unknowable aspects we engage and wonder. "Listening" 
to "The Listening Trees" is a cumulative accomplishment of all available senses. 
True "Listening" is meant here: a deeply organic function of all sense-abilities 
in unison. 

In the presence of one who deeply listens (as trees do) there is an overarching 
aura of spiritual integrity and deep sense of naturalistic compassion.   Nature 
is the only absolute origin mankind has as proof of some divinity and yet we 
destroy our self / environment with abandon, replacing our truest resource of 
inner connectedness to the universe with self / destruction:  The stripped, 
stolen and harvested outer resources of monetary excess.   I offer up 
"The Listening Trees" to those in need of guidance out of their personal 
experience of hell. The poem is a map to a magical grove of self-empowerment.  
I believe the poem is a gift to mankind. It is not my poem. I claim only to 
have received the contents in a moment of stone sober clarity. My giant heart 
is herein available: The intoned XXII tree.  Everyone is born with a fist full 
of seeds.   Regardless of our immediate sense of loss and hopelessness, 
however shattered our body and mind, however lonely our tears do taste we are 
but a roots' length from wholeness. We need only to enter the grove to find 

If anyone would like to share their story with me do so at 

With love and listening,

Henry Avignon

I     First Snow

Climbing down; plummeting, from fixity: 
For generations of the blizzard name: sky-
Bound for clefts, mounds, and fleshy nether...

Morning white departures of crystal; stones 
Falling through glass myths of listless sky,
Swaying with softness in the musical sphere...

Albedo winds gusting the brackish contrast
Of pines.  Five pointed mountain of dimension 
Suffering the dementia of perception's crux... 

Wings of folding hawks descending in flurry
of grays; arrow of scale, bow of contrast. 
Heavier the falling, higher the shapelessness... 

Unabated, muffling, dazed: immense sonar 
Of silences. Perilous, icy, deserted: eyes 
Consuming now and now and now.... 

Spiritualized, Aye! Amelioration of minds, 
Quantum game of infinitesimal decimals 
Suffocating worlds below decibels of purity...

Justification and allegiance, fur and fire;
Order of blindfold, caress, sleep, 
Longing, red wine, and percussive love...

The rain-rusted earth slipped unconscious
Into a hypothermia of frozen vine
Noble for the chill and granular sweetness... 

Branching of metallic sunder: silver icicles 
Following in the echoes of fallen fruit
By the morning's scorch of refracted heat.

II The Bel Tree Good morning say the breezes White lung swollen, sacrificial breath Of the trees, the Bel trees... Welcome, say colours, to their ape Damp lips heavenward pierced By the red arrows of the sky... Burning tongue of all dawn Unchained banner of sudden inhale Dislocating waves of silver dynasty...
III The Minotaur Tree For the Minotaur, grove is guarded by bees. Rooted in the voids of human volition; its sway Incites the sun. Sand does turn to glass... Salacious body of Oak, brooding head of Olive branch; come the soliloquy of lightning--mercy, No! The emerald gloss, caution tossed aside... Abduct of gardens in poems from memory, Trading for struggle along metaphorical axis, Pans dirty haunt, a shady lark with amber flesh... Jupiter heeds its paper tiger--octopus of measure. Busting with yellow buds, musky oils released. Loaded on pollen, pistil-swollen and undressed...
IV The Flaming Tree "Listen" and you mean.--Love, body Of one's volatility; enflamed leaves, passion's Tree in the yard of soul, rooted in words... Again the vowels: tibia, phalange, tongue Lung and palm: red sounds, essential thicknesses Heaves of elegance: all residing above her mosses... Incendiary gestures: beacons for quivering bulbs And a supersymmetry of bones. Thin, broken Crackles of marrow diminished to ash; longing... Morning sparks the midday's inferno. Dusk Remains silent. Time sifts the static. Breath burns faster than mutual respect... Lonely is consumptive. A kiss is kindling, The sacred vines, a harvesters ode: a golden sign. Vague reciprocity rising in a dream of clouds... The heart alone is forever. Memory need burn In protest. Each an incident of fuel and faith Among asphodels. Everything Ignites love...
V The Peepal Tree Gray sky, aye! Green skin of Ashvattha Our sins our time our seeds our toil Bark of knowing the sun's span, the moon... Giant heart, aye! Mohenjodaro's glance Over friends and planets and immense hunger Ooze and salve of fires, all visceral fruit... Gods awakened! Eye of life and death There is room yet for simple stones All sunflower(ing) forms; pip of entry soul...
VI Tree by the Sea From the spume of hard drowned dreams, Moon splits and sea-fractures foam up. Though gradual, flow out to blown lands... Soluble dunes. Morning reveals a cusp, A buffer; a sudden, swollen breast of relief. Sand crusted nipples of conchs slanting... As pipers swat, retreating the hermit to exile In himself: body of calcium and shade, Alter on an ark resurrecting routes of escape... A rancor of hunger converges. Sea's law Is beg and take: being trembling inhuman Perfection; tidal sway of terrors, of losses... Murdering on time, these tearful volumes Of pain and torrent and generative undertow. The hermit is our defense, skin in-graphed... Skull bucket of sand fleas and seaweed; A microcosmic self-life, estranged to death By a streaking white beak in hostile air... We're here to keep up this shell, To dodge and learn damaged things; Shoulder midday and the middling sun... So many ways to breathe--to listen Inwardly: verbs of the sea breathing, Listening forwardly. Tree by the sea... Lifting to longevity, listening for victory To the C-rip widening O release all sonority To the C-rip wondering O shore of mystery...
VII The Palm Tree Blindness sees the solid and empty dark Ferment of Hamlet's babbled palms; Green centenarians of flowering gallows... Thousands of words to mean just Nature Ten thousand syllables to speak the miracle; A shard of light and root in a vase of voice... Nexus of veins straddling a history of blood Ghost of civilization, haunt of potential; Of hats and shoes and sweetly toxic rain...
VIII The Alphabet Tree Impenetrable to machetes and meaning; Impervious to brush fires whilst transfiguring Man--the abyss, the leviathan--silence. Man... Chain-link of self-deceptions; sounder of tornado: Alarm thundering a dark village of cognition Ruthless how a tree may stand or not... Because letters shaped like an artichoke may taste Like an apple. The orchard itself contains Multitudes. Each man's death amounts to fractals... Tree of commonly misspelled fears; Of intangible violence; of a perverse mechanism; White skulls turbaned with hunted hides... Tree in the grove from which all fell, Apple of our mother's womb; aiming for self- Provocation; Newton's bruise again and again... Illusory tree sprung, a cosmic phantasm or magic Of endless variants on a dove and olive branch Readied to raise the roof by deafening nuance... Or whispering tree; conjured conjurer of closeness The gift of immovability in this expanding place, The essential truth of proximity to grace... Or tree of the absence of dolor, model of skin Grown from within, shade for alienated nations; Stump of sudden revelation. Tree of equalities...
IX The Weeping Widow Roots in the valley of origins engendered; Southernmost perseverance of aching eyes Vaulting from the urn of living martyrdom... Blood soaked branches raking low regions; The vegetation of music and subtle aromas Of love acquired. By the wounds closing... Blushed with sadness; mud erupted inward From the warrior's trunk, swollen by progress From vanquished soil to winds of song... From birth's inhale to death's blue note Scattering vehemence and symphonic change; Flood in the grove: The widow's green ear... More than liturgy leafs the jungle of mind; Human drum in triple time, a hypnotist's ladder: Rung by rung by stone; a sad dream of lungs... Aggressive red, intense white, debilitation Of indigo, violet, passive black: green bridge: The willow's arm, time's span, karma's wheel... Netting of shiny Indra; scope of all of nothing Feast and luminosity: aviary of screeched light Pearls of lineages rolling off: Angas of fans... Avesta of flutes, Dhammapada of castanets, Genesis of the Lotus flower, Hagiographa Of the bamboo tubes, Qur'an of hollow gourds... Mahabharata of swords, Proverbs of the peonies, Ramayana of narcissistic plums, Revelation Of the blossoms of the rubrics of all miracle... Everything beautiful makes her weep. Shatters a mirror of ego with each glance, Blue sky, blood rain, dead rose, burnt chamber... By shadowy instrumentation trunks mourn; Not able to walk remembering the grove in sync, In sobs and gales emoting--the tire of law deflates... Pain is the ritual: the iambic meditation and calm: Strings, wood, wind and listener's beguilement Knowing the day, how it began, why it must end...
X The Lyre Wood Tree The Universe is (being) chopped into sevens: Notes, chakras, icons, movements, days, planets: Green tiger of Santiago; tongues of La Chascona... We calculate human birth, life and death in- To the fray between winter and spring perceived Forever: a dormant stage before all-cycle begins... Sixty seconds, sixty minutes, twenty four hours Of grandiloquent experience, each day a show, Each moment submerged in the flesh's role...
XI The Evergreen Tree Ars Symbolica of summers fleeting penetration Of aggressive means: the stake, ship, and lyre In mature hands of men: not popular friends... On a sea of wine gray as Italy's fine pine; Green as Nimrods fire and Demeter's crop; As Poseidon's liver and Yo-He-Wah's lot... In humane time: a map of colorful primes; The liberated nations of flowers and foliage Fenced in by heights of pan-eclectic pride... Garden states of reaped earth tied to plates Scrawled with names: property, law, commerce War, evil, science, glut--anything but Mut... Wildest acre of man's earthy grove unkempt; Unrelenting thunder claps silencing all laments. Mists fisting white blazes up mountains clear... When Prakraty rides a dragonfly, singing Lear And Lan Ts'ai-ho, the mountebank, a gay bear: Cruel hunters lurk there in resurrection's cave... Long snakes settle in groping, womanly naves, Marooned light bends to waves of crazed heat, And a skin of old flames tastes again of basalt... The season men side against their own creation, Drunk on Ism's and other fanciful treasons With only reason and provocation to believe... The end is yet a cliff on a lost island of origins Island is the cost of the journey offset by fate: Between berry picking and sweet corn--the bank... For every mantra of holy manifest, a carnival! For every polemic of war, a shattered mandible! For the tenor of tendered wisdom, a fatal wreck...
XII The Lightning Rod Tree of marks and signets; tapestry of memory, Char-rutted bark, death seeded, evidenced as illumine. Humble palm: lit heart of four rages: the quadriga... Tree of dangerous grasp, listening to conductors Of rain; needling conifer of static growth by night, Each ghostly strike--one immaterial, one light... Metacarpal roots shuffling bones of Michelangelo. Elemental, cylindrical, unequal; harbor for shocks, Port of ventricles: delivering the end-start of spring... Tip of the exotic metatarsals deep in divined dung: Media vita in morte sumus, observed the blind monk, With accusatory ecstasy, a finger in the dictionary... Rod of witness, tree of irony, manna of whiteness: Teaching all poor attendees of flora: science too Is prayer; Nature: one zodiacal play of death's ruse... Rod of temples, feasting on migraines, dividing The world of recognition into mantras for indecision, Pinnacled at center-trunk; spine of the decumanus... Architectonic wood of man's combustible resource, The point of one's perception least likely to hold, Mystic center of the invisible fruit likely to mold... Astrobiological megalith of molecule_pages beyond The foremost story of humanoid hypocrisy; Incendiary one of five branches becoming a third sky... The first is Time, the second (being) Space, and last: It happens in the place between what and when "I" realizes phenomena is a garden planted by eyes.
XIII The Dogwood Tree Grown in ash and tooth of self-dug graves, watered By ghost urine of dislocated mange; triangulated By lingams scope into past particles, present tragedy... And we will never know fully what the eyes can see. Between high tide and the solitude of new moons Between res cogitans and res extensa: field of dunes... Beyond the sands: a grove, beyond the grove: a grave. Midsummer in midlife's nightmare: a bitch in heat; Whose rings are studded collars constricting in theory... Best friend of the farmer's ruin, open just late afternoon When nothing is neutral, everything entropic and serial. The light of birth evaporating off sun scorched lids... Silvering hairs on the neck and ears in abeyance to fear Kick Cerberus down the cellar stairs; when our spiders Of loyalty run clear of web, by twilight man is dead... Tree of chimeras until a decade of luck before dusk When summer green aspires autumnally, weeping rust; Collecting body bags of salt from the sea's culled ledge... Harpies! Rakshasas tend our shipwrecked hammocks, Threaded on wire leashing between rabid canine necks Tempus, Chiao, Mors, Gorgon, Hoo, Criosphinx, Ba... Swollen as sudden bells beneath expectant blooms Every aging bone of humanity yearning the proper ax To cut down from yester-morrow, bloated ugly-time... From flea bitten gallows. All vital conversations And reproductions run; a third transformation begun. First presses turning in full bowls of harvest--amen...
XIV The Hanging Tree Suspended in mid agony, split below the ridge, Bifurcating atlas from axis; between the first And third Symphony of Dionysius' weary spine... To each man his own profound and complex snap Of the wrist unclenching the fist from tarried rope By dusk; to us all: genius is a kick to the chair... Fifty centuries give or take a gamble, the apes Still chafing nipples against trees; torsos Of anarchic Apollo's asphyxiating and erotic... Golden corpses, ruins, glistening mud statuettes Hung below the inclination, uninspired by freedom Or isolation--throat of the goat of history cut... In the atmosphere above our instincts to guilt: A culpability of saints, a weight less than gravity, Theocritus' rogue spear of tears into animus... Each third eye, a hanging branch for civilization, Her malcontents. To each his own recompense. Long hands grip for drop. Short hands tie the knot... Twelve branches, every other hour: faith or fate. We bring us farther from man's obsolescence. We bring us closer to naked (re)acquiescence Red bellied Maria Cassas crooning la Mamma Morta All our moments near her, rattling a staged loss Chords of fire wood surging the bodies last vein.
XV The Cannery Tree Rusted and yellowing weight of myths constellate At thrush time on the other side of Yin in the dirt, Ringing the horns like Amalthea's red cape... Wind knows what blows us to the sea's reef. Fragile cost unwinds the scales of temperament, Colors peak at eight. By nine were ripped under... Birth, life and death or father, son and breath: Burdens divisible by three. A Fourth horse unseen A drunken tetramorph at the quaternary saloon... Annual drops are squirreled in still-warm holes; Branch bald as a mendicant's bowl, deep with glow Of monks--Tibet's uncut jewel. Full moon; blue sonata... These instruments of autumn, forged in sour-blood. Leaves cresting the summer wave, green foam; Low hanging jars swell with a tintinnabulation of bells... We weary of the bull's phlegm and chortle. Madness pricks the tongue, a matador's sword. Sundials remind us of Loss. Doves mean: lost.
XVI The Mandorla Tree No matter is left where the spirit is right, Napping between unknowns, skulled against A wish joint of the apparent world's design... Like the acacia Juan planted in herstory; Tree of many faces and misspelled names Colours germinated in the potter's eyes... Enormous, intangible visitors: Om, longing. Air shoots run madness through akash! Eager soul: a blind harvester's basket...
XVII The Magnus Tree The dismembered memory of timbre; long On component elements, meatier than the Corona Of Andalusia; sung in slang: Aye! O' Musical(i)tree... Spontaneously grown on rooftops in slums, refugee Camps, in desert lawns of dissidents in exile; in tombs Of murdered children; mothers with slain hearts... A stack of fragments, a racking of filaments, elliptical And diachronic but only in the sonnet of a moment; Created to crumble and regenerative; full of push-force... Tree of instruments and melody; elixir of voice And atonality the same; expressive, logical, symbolic And harmoniously insane: lacy, racy, delicate, impure... Thirty-Fourth variation on the nth degree, Pollinated by yellow hands of sonorous sea; Savage, impassible sustenance, idee fixe... Magnum leaves bend rain; reeds for the wind Keeping rhythms in line, rusting lust and thirst in time; Water for cranes, fish, metals and lion's mane... Flourish, Pythagorean blossom, petal of multiplicity; Eternal tetrachords of the low; Tritone bud of infinity Each bled color is of all others the same... Flowers! Fruit of the child! March of ecstatic droves! O' lisping Magnus. Clove, poppy, cherry, plum: Stepping out! O' lugubrious doubt; long soiled time... The tree of minstrels woven: Skald of a eunuch flute, Udgatar of a skull drum, Griot of a harmonium, Aashik of a moon guitar, Ozan of stone and pond... Dengbej of Mendoza's butterfly ruminated by Milan; A bardic tree meaning the world is less unreal, more A grove of green thou than a stage for graying thee...
XVIII The Mirroring Tree Once!--Sand is cooked. All last beds are glass. A roulette wheel of rollick bullets the past.--No Matter, the eye rolls to a stop at furnace blast... Chaos-the-disorder got its name from this One's Inverted personality. Mirroring is our disability, A tended canopy of narcissus, undulating identity... But the opposite of beauty and life has vanity too, Cycling parallel, hidden beyond the sawgrass threads In a transparent frenzy of reversals and salinity... With roots thick as buckets in the well of allegory: Man destroys himself and it means something more. The infamous road: maize that ends us at alone... Staring at this tree with leaves that grew like weeds In every nook and crack that knocked men back; To the missing Egyptian season, lost to reason... In the nineteenth Mexican day of the seventeenth Mayan month; Ceres, Pallas, Vesta and Juno gone; Hungarian Sun rising: a water mark in the dream... Man-the-abused child was an under-watered tree We see the condor perch of dusk is not captivity. The rose was never read, reflecting off red's web... A skipping stone to the seas edgy plunge Come light of the astral razor; come blindnesses, Enter limitless abstract equations for all unseen... Enter the season before absolute black entwines. Augusts' thunderbolts suture the voiding mind: Chance, destiny, providence--pure, planed speed... The window sealed; a dusty sill cold with stilled flies. The grapes of véraision grazed, the eye's third glance; Time to romance. A crow's good word arrives...
XIX The Abracadabra Tree Clouds molded gray as Egyptian bone, trembling With icy dust, loosen up twilight; the innermost Crypt of a lifetime looms in dulled suspension... Hands feeling chill show their craggy ranges. At last the sistrum of summer shed its ecto-sin. A grim crackling, deep in the sac of elegiac lung... Coughing out the antidote--abreq ad habra! To see disgorged: red veins, white sputum Flung to the sea on winds past our tree; our night... Proxy of thorns: son of the sun that shines No more at angles that cast shadows or warmth. Acanthus of guilt and punishment; pitch silent... Leaves like elephant ears thin as butterfly wings, Open beneath dark sky: one last umbrella. Along its remotest branches--bodies of birds... Reminding us all: sought roads end in detour, Each disappeared wing is hung by the door Where man's shoes too are fair trade for flight... A new nascence; a naked, bipedal phoenix stands, Palms empty for the history and flood of mankind Blinded suddenly by darkness: a woman's womb... And souls by the chrysalis of tenderness must go, Weightless. Between new eyes, the earth below; All centuries, hark!--Acrobatic inversions of flow...
XX Last Snow Calm white emancipation of the eons Everything as everything else is gone Everyone as everyone else is alone... Secret white recognition of between Being human and being the trumpet's note: Between the jaws of red fox: a tit mouse... Grey white of misplaced dominions, prayer Ashen as the char of alters burned In this big freeze, aloft now on winds... Cloud white vigor of plasma pulsing Down the roads of mystery afoot leaping wolves; tracks of goodbye... Sleepy white nerves of space, unbelievable So long as we are light, something will grow beyond this life, our roots in another wonder... Song white trunk of our dying old tree Bark wrought and rent as tributaries; Cylindrical wooden statue of the Andes... White on white bastion of patience--the way. Being simultaneous in four dimensions Dark earth, light earth, white sky and eye...


 XXI  The Listening Trees 

Once life was a glut, only grapes were grown
Tended before mercy, compassion, and love 
For home--the earth was plowed with bone...

Heart was a field of twenty trees torn out
And Spirit, shackled animals forced to work.
The end would be rows of loneliness and dirt...

Hours of harvest became years of drunkenness.
Children lost track of a blood stained walk.
Sunflowers were pulled for roses and hemlock...

A flagging tongue, the enemy, was stung at last.
The dream of bees belied by fierce activities:
Nature sought not to pollinate self-hate but light...

The forehead opened then, a brilliant metal pail
With gaunt, quivering lips and spongiform eyes
Below the rim: lowered then into darkest well... 

We learn or die: thirst is layers of fragile need.
Sludge of 1's, 0's, and syllabi: sediments of fate;
Then foam of geometric and phonetic shapes...

Magma of phrasings, tones: all molten passion;
Strata of enormous instinct, archetypal codes;
And ether of all interpretations--the unknown...

To know permanently the sun of high noon,
Tongues need pay homage to the dial of stone.
Those who listen remind us of trees. All listening 

To breezes aloft, lilting in a melodic drone of seas.
In the call of the seas, high on the breezes lifted:
Stone, sun, and seas: singing for the listening trees. 


The Listening Tree (c) 2009 By Henry Avignon 


All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

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