YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

July 1999

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken
Production Editor: Pedro Sena
European Editor: Moshe Benarroch
Contributing Editors: Martin Zurla; Rita Stilli; Milan Georges Djordjevitch; Michael Collings

ISSN 1480-6401




                        Michael R. Collings

   INTRODUCTION.........................................Dr M. Collings Phd 
      LIVE OAK
      GWYN TOUR*


   Elemental Sonnets

   In their own ways, each of these words suggests something of the power 
   I hoped to embed within each of the Elementals. And each suggests 
   something of the genesis of the poems as individuals and as a coherent--or 
   perhaps incoherent--sequence.
   Tracking down where poems come from is always simultaneously fascinating 
   and frustrating, rewarding and surprising. The Elementals have perhaps 
   the most complex genealogy of any literary form I have yet attempted, 
   deriving from several sources extending back some thirty years. On the 
   surface, they seem an immediate outgrowth of the two "Remembery" sequences 
   previously published in Ygdrasil (April 1996, August 1998). Those two 
   sequences adapted the sonnet as form to autobiography as subject, 
   manipulating the former to lend poetic unity and (I hope) interest to 
   the latter. In the process of exploring instants of memory, at least 
   partially in order to understand the strands of influence that constitute 
   a full life, I discovered how malleable the sonnet form could be. As 
   Remembery progressed, I tried to strain all of the criteria for sonnets 
   to their limit: iambic pentameter gave way to syllabics, generally nine 
   to eleven syllables per line; perfect rhyme gave way to slanting rhyme, 
   to half rhyme, to echoic rhyme; neat quatrains and couplets found 
   themselves shifting, weaving, blending in strange ways. The results 
   seemed to be sonnets that were not quite sonnets, poems that sounded 
   as much like colloquial speech as poetry, autobiographical instants that 
   expanded to incorporate an entire life. And there the experiment with 
   form would end. I thought.
   Even as I wrote the final Remembery poems, however, something even 
   more radical began to suggest itself in my poetry. What if more than 
   form--rhythm, rhyme, structure--were pushed to its limits? What if 
   language itself--spelling, punctuation, typography, spacing--were also 
   pushed to the extremes, then coupled with content that was itself 
   self-reductive, struggling to understand essences--all captured in 
   something that retained the outlines of the sonnet, perhaps the most 
   elegantly refined and certainly among the most historically traditional 
   of all English verse forms?
   What if the poems became captured instants that in turn attempted to 
   capture universals?
   The next logical step was to identify precisely what kind of "universals"
   --"elementals"--I wanted to explore. And here, another strand became 
   critical. Since long before my formal graduate studies in Renaissance 
   literature, I have been fascinated by sixteenth-and seventeenth-century 
   English literature, history, culture, society, and life. A late 
   high-school infatuation with Milton and Paradise Lost resulted in an 
   eighteen-month flirtation with Renaissance epic--and twenty-five years 
   later with the final version of a twelve-book, 6000-line Renaissance 
   epic, The Nephiad (Zarahemla Motets, 1998). A separate but related 
   project in constructing a time-line of the seventeenth-century resulted 
   in a closer understanding of the essentially visual nature of Renaissance 
   thought. And my traumatic exposure to chemistry in high school was still 
   vivid enough in memory to assure me that I was neither capable of nor 
   interested in examining elements in the modern sense.
   So, in keeping with reductive sense of the poems themselves, I moved 
   Earth, Air, Fire, Water--the elements separating themselves from chaos. 
   Chaos evolving into increasingly complex and sophisticated spheres of 
   order. Order expanding to fill the cosmos. Cosmos  well, at that point, 
   not even poetry would be sufficient to say what would have to be said.
   Thus the Elementals came into being. Highly structured and ordered, in 
   spite of surface appearances, they struggle to restrain chaos into 
   order, order into cosmos, and cosmos into eternity. While remaining 
   poems. And existing as self-contained moments of poetic expression.
   Perhaps no poet is ever quite certain that the results of imagination 
   touch reality precisely as hoped. I read the Elementals and see not 
   only their words and pictures but the entire flow of imagination that 
   went into their creation. Readers must take on faith that there are 
   pathways leading from apparent point A to apparent point Z; those 
   pathways are imprinted indelibly upon my memory. But to some extent, 
   the Elementals seem to have succeeded as I intended.
   Shortly after completing the typescript for the sequence, I asked a 
   colleague and fellow-poet at Pepperdine University to read it and 
   comment it. His responses were gratifying:
   I very much enjoyed reading your earth, air, fire, water sonnet sequence. 
   What a nice combination of physics and poetry, and what an intriguing 
   form. They strike me as elemental, nuclear-fused sonnets, free radicals 
   one electron away from exploding. To use Poet's phrase, you are both 
   poet and mathematician. 
   While I appreciated the implicit praise, I appreciated even more the 
   descriptive phrasing: "nuclear-fused sonnets, free radicals one electron 
   away from exploding."
   Precisely what I had hoped.
   Now, of course, the Elementals must stand on their own. I can talk as 
   long as I wish (overly long, perhaps) about what I wanted to happen. I 
   can quote a fellow-poet about what he perceived. But ultimately, the 
   Elementals--as do all things elemental--must remain free to combine 
   with other minds and other imaginations, to illude, elude, and allude 
   according to their own generative power.
   Dr M. Collings Phd

   Michael R. Collings
   "The elements of all ... properties or things are eternal, uncreated, 
   self-existing. Not one particle can be added to them by creative power. 
   Neither can one particle be diminished or annihilated" - Parley P. Pratt
   unmade protons sigh//transform     translated
   electrons/positrons      attenuated
   particles managed by magnetic fields
   forage through infinity     counsel     yield
   consent to constitute each Entity,
   time and space slow to full eternity...,
   ENTITY     galactic-huge organic
   thought unable yet of peace or panic
   sweeps meditative prescient-memories
   to chemistry        physics       cosmology
   twists subatomic particles their fraction
   with each inarticulated action
   moves INTELLIGENCES a millennial nod
   and contemplates imagining its GODS

VOLCANO ~~~~~~~ Heat beneath beat beneath convulsive heat/ beat/retreat of fire thrum/drum/sun-hot cen- ter polar/pillar penetrates sensate liquid ore/core heat beneath below man- tled bone-fire/stone-fire/bonfire of vagar- ies "'ante Vulcunum,' before fire, art- ifice, and the yoke of labor"* knee-arc finger-curl shoulder-roil above new-heart- beat RISE face flesh furnace/blasted new RISE eye-flame throat-flame neck-flame RISE beyond fire already pooling golding gilding mass in open space in CONDENSATION cool-air savors heat assuages beat transmuted gold weds leaden-darkness-crusted-Earth-moist mold [* Quoted from Raphael Falco, Conceived Presences: Literary Genealogy in Renaissance England Amherst MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994), p. 148; citing Erwin Panofsky.]
AIR ~~~ heavy torpid air soils lungs with lead boils black from asphalt cracks sidewalks chalk- encrusted - rusted handbars scorch hands red worn-rubber swings reverse fierce fretful jerks sole-motion slow-motion arcs sun-bleached park- scape shimmers motionless against the line horizon-distant spume of hunching black en-trop-ic hor-i-zon-tal anodyne drags breath drags bone blood sinew sweating brow eyes-upward -northward colliding black on black [...] silence [...] pent breath in a blow funnel-tunnel twist-stalk shearing golden after-light spume-bright-essence whirlwind-fear grain-threshing flesh-crushing swirl-rushing air
NAKED ON ITS BRANCH THE SHADOW STANDS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Naked on its branch the shadow stands Bulks sulks sits flits flirts shifts With every wending of a-pillow-Sun Now-lean now-wan now-harsh now-elemental Gental rolling hills and emerald swards No-high behind beyond beside beneath And the shadow remains, rests Bulks sulks sits flirts flits shifts With each warning of the moon-diame- ter try thrive throw spin-dinning frenzies Other-shadows other-silence other-milk-marsh Banks slip salient streams course onward Outward downward from the branch-raw Crotch where the shadow stands
FALLING WATER ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Falling water cuts cold granite at its Precipice-severe sharp glinting Mica, Feldspar tumbled over milk-pink quartz, Enough to make the summer sunlight ache- Hovers...then down past draughty caverns Vastly ancient, twisting about itself In columns solid with an evanescent Play of light and flash and flesh and lift- Defies shoulders shudders sheers of face-cliffs Barely visual-to plunge ecstatic Cold and boiling into substance cleft And cloven woven with all-shades of life- Into the ceaseless blue of silent music... Calmly warming blue-lit cool mosaic
FOG, LIKE SNOW ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Fog frosts arid chaparral mottled ce- anothus crowns submerge nearby ridge-flanks age lighten disappear one by one days mutely slide unneeded as slick fog banks forward huddles reverses to grey seas each day fog ingests one bite more quests a moment longer wraps one more distant ridge denying shadow spreading softened shapes woolly-wrapped in cotton-fog white-spun fog sparkled with facet drops dependent from slick-smooth leaves ceanothus mocks holly dust-green shimmers scrubbed fire-mantle-scrim haven-bar spread beneath sun-frozen flames- moist fog rests cool upon dry mountain breasts
SANDSTONE ~~~~~~~~~ -sand-and-banded-stone mottled-blood- engorged-forging-thrusting-skyward pinnacle mud-and-blood-pressured-stone tower cold- ly wearing iron weight of years nipping wind-tears cracking pins of elemental ice burst infinitesimal frac- tures wedge submicroscopic molecules- moisture waging immortal war with mock- ing grit [...] scouring wind [...] blistering sun - molecules wedge freeze expand fall heat on heat gristly gritty sledge-bearing drop-wedging shards break fragmental fila- ment shudders separates a hairbreadth crack topples monoliths to waiting grating rock
DESICCATED FLAME ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Desiccated flame encrusts the rock The air the very breath that labors Its harsh lungs taught tight strait dry-fire rakes All essence to a leaden heap...embers Beyond remembery sublimated Adust golden melancholy touching Essence with its grimly cessant motion Infusing effusing refusing beseechings To longer linger, finger with deft Sanguine touch face of rock and shade and earth Until inexorable gravity wafts Spinning motes into the throat of glory-birth Where irrigated flames consume the dust... And All reveals through shimmer-sentient mist
LIVE OAK ~~~~~~~~ Writhe-oak live-oak wraith-wreath stark against a dark- Blue plum-bruise sky Gotterdammerung In bare-branch black Druidic as mute murky Tarns that once pronounced dire mysteries among Bruit-pagan forebears Stark still against Black cut-out sky made real by outlined Absent stars obscured inferred sea-sand dense Except where live-oaks tentacle tendril Then and now At dawn grey-dusky green Musty even in beginning light dagger- Digits gnarl against the coming sheen Curl and twist whorl resist-less jagged- Ragged leaves pin-prickling breezes gaunt Invade dark live-oaks writhe-oaks wraiths and haunts
GODFINGER ~~~~~~~~~ GodFinger rakes ragged tags of blue- still-peace white-curling over white until it shoals time-encrusted collapsing time-hewn grit-made-stone embraces-crashes into lull [From where I stand upon the cliff, the moment Hesitates, my gaze drops, greets the wind's; and Sand and sea and cliff and Face-of-God combine Into their single startling element That shares equally of breath and glint, land And fluid intricately entwined...] far off GodFinger begins again again Infinitely roils spiraling gestation Toward new shoalings liberated grains Condense again again into Creation
SEASHALLOWS ~~~~~~~~~~~ seashallows dance chrome-indigo life-sear- ing sun eclipsed its balled-up shroud a pall of crumpled black crepe-rape along a tear- strained horizon above/beyond wave-walls that hover-tremble-heave-themselves erect vagrant moon gone too, dead whiteface hidden beneath turquoise tumults ridge-edge-ledge backed wave on wave shimmers upward-grasping lead froth-plait damp voyeur stars dare not condescend to peek, to peep and pry calm nakedness transforms sheer ocean into leagues of bend- ing-writhing-twisting-arcing-curling massed musculature breaking on land-sand coves and still seashallows dance chrome-indigo
GWYN TOUR* ~~~~~~~~~ -beast slipping//sleeping over all white-glint fall to cancel columned greens and sheen instead in cold-fire harmony Pal- try thirst first-scattered by a miser's hand White-tower-beast sleeping//creeping soft mounds enfold sharp crystalline fangs consum- ing//inhuming above white-flight redounds hangs silhouette against a thrice-howled moon Wyntour-beast creeping//heaping leaving no- track no-trace no-hibernation-place no-grace inter-froze between steep foe and waiting grating white-beast-buried face Winter-beast heaping//weeping anticipat- ing dissipating baiting verdant fate [*Gwyn Tour: Welsh for "white tower"; during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the surname Winter occasionally occurs spelled 'Wintour' or 'Wyntour' to reflect its supposed derivation from the Welsh.]
RAIN ~~~~ --and the backyard a grizzle-bearded wild of lush-tufted weeds love-knot-twined ger- aniums peek through dust crocuses rear toward pocked canopies apples plump bare twigs with wooden buds peaches and apri- cots little more than lint-brush green from dim dark the next stray storm-cloud gathers steel-dry curves against sunset-glare Tomorrow when incipient grass strains high hard peach-pods tangle bluff and moist crocuses spike slow thick sticky beads to counter thirst rain-beat- en breeze-blown apple branches swing and nod solemn deference to spring I shall mow and trim and thin preparing for the heat
THISTLES ~~~~~~~~ Along prim pasture-rows random thistles root to haunt dim musty memories in airless torpid pungent afternoons Sessile topknot-shoots tuft volcanic-stagnant flame Cool lava spurts cloud-light ash-thick into unstirring air floats motionless an instant settles in a pregnant wash of fiber on grey-green-dusty waiting milkweed cups Volatile threatening thistles nettle-warn wayward cows that graze toward the west Unassaulted crowns of purple crest low pastures until stiff summer's age warms flame to subtle snows that-patient-wait.... In harvest winds drift-thistles abdicate
EAGLE ~~~~~ entity of earth and water wooden flight straining to at-one with air with fire-- feather beak and claw poised over hot blood turgid earth-blood scorching pinnacle/lair mail-linked feathered head glacier-pale eyes not-white/not-blue translucent glare/stare/dare- ing eight-foot wingspan arched/stretched\arced essays/ conspires/aspires to ascend beyond bare stark-laced granite shoulders barren pine-knot tops burdened with two thousand pounds of nest- ling twigs/branches\moss earth-dead plant-nest that flings wings outward upward skyward air-crest outline dark against cerulean light curving up-/out-/skyward coveting flight
GREENERY ~~~~~~~~ swollen with potentiality of seed [potens, potere, 'to be able', 'to have power'-dim shadow-word from long-dead Latin] the green ignites underneath a summer-sun explosive bursts of green hand-breadth wide and thick/thin lush as taste hover as if with pinioned angel-wings over branch and trunk and root arms out-stretch silk-haloed in shrill heat shadows march their order over man-earth-ribs rippling with fecund growth summer's burgeoning share of elemental virtu strains to birth shaggy garments fade to naked strength and greening verdure preens through day-shine's length
CREEKROCK ~~~~~~~~~ creekrock sleek-rock ticking geoLogic time cold-moss-hung clock-intrusion fractured cutting/jutting/rutting iced-magmatic tears glacial tears condensed coarse-crystal hard- ness thrusting/bursting/thirsting melting heat compression into quartz feldspar [pink-white plagioclase sheer orthoclase] grain-grat- ing crush crystal into crystal into light softness melts hardness endures inures it- self to aeons weight pressure heat heat pressure weight and shatters with unending bite ice snow wind heat snow Wind Ice TIME abate weight thick-sediment-clothing slides away creekrock glistens moistens enlightens day
PREDATOR ~~~~~~~~ shoulder-ember Arab-named intensity a thousand multiples of yellow suns- red-swollen massy vast immensity five hundred years beyond light's quick-shrug run ankle eye-of-god-bright light blue-white-on- white titanic glow five-thousand tens more luminous than ancient-yellow sparking wanes- nine hundred years beyond our light-fleshed core static water frozen sword-tip barely flare of night bright hesitance half-spun be- tween cock-surely-seen feigned-unseen-surely- known spot/blue\wheeling milk-sheen/circled/worlds Alnitak/Mintaka/Alnilam - belt of potence harness-glow celestial
NIGHT ~~~~~ bruise-blue-black counter-element anti- element, unLight disembodied drapes dark as skeleton branches hang at eve- ning in bleak December bruise-black shape antithesis of form leafless starkness darkness invades sky tree rock stone all Earth all Air all Sea all Flame transmuted flesh of dayShine forced against/into itself antagonist of light agonistic day contracts against inequinox ex- pands // contracts / / expands and severs vatic silence heals bruise-black neon-glow and nox- ious night drapes the rood-arm-cross of mourning remnant of the struggle to be born
MUSIC OF THE SPHERES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Earth-Air-Water-Flame- Fire falling from crystalline Outer Sphere- Sphere of God-down to Earth-Dust-World World where we are second-born- On its way-pure-poured Flame vibrating Sun- Moon-Stars-Wanderers through blue Night- Flame touches incandescent eternals- Spirits of Fire eager for breath and dust- Eager to descend concentric Spheres- Become one with Earth-pass through Water- Ascend Air-rejoin the Fount of All-Flame- Elemental Unity at the End of All- Unity-Infinity-Eternity- Earth-Air-Fire-Water...Children of Highest God ....
All Poems copyright (c) 1999 by Michael R. Collings


A New Age: The Centipede Network Of Artists, Poets, & Writers
An Informational Journey Into A Creative Echonet [9310]
(C) CopyRight "I Write, Therefore, I Develop" By Paul Lauda

       Come one, come all! Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established 
       just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A 
       place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and 
       learn from all.  A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. 
       Even a chance to be published in a magazine.

       The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. 
       Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such 
       an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon 
       started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin 
       Board Systems.

       We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a
       specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking.
       Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets
       are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a
       writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer
       can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since 
       the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means 
       that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative 
       user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created.

       Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede

  Ygdrasil is committed to making literature available, and uses the
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  . REMEMBERY: EPYLLION IN ANAMNESIS (1996), poems by Michael R. Collings

  . DYNASTY (1968), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE WIZARD EXPLODED SONGBOOK (1969), songs by KJ Gerken
  . STREETS (1971), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . BLOODLETTING (1972) poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . ACTS (1972) a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . RITES (1974), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FULL BLACK Q (1975), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . ONE NEW FLASH OF LIGHT (1976), a play by KJ Gerken
  . THE BLACKED-OUT MIRROR (1979), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . JOURNEY (1981), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . LADIES (1983), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FRAGMENTS OF A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1984), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE BREAKING OF DESIRE (1986), poems by KJ Gerken
  . FURTHER SONGS (1986), songs by KJ Gerken
  . POEMS OF DESTRUCTION (1988), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE AFFLICTED (1991), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . DIAMOND DOGS (1992), poems by KJ Gerken
  . KILLING FIELD (1992), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . BARDO (1994-1995), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FURTHER EVIDENCES (1995-1996) Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . CALIBAN'S ESCAPE AND OTHER POEMS (1996), by Klaus J. Gerken 
  . CALIBAN'S DREAM (1996-1997), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE LAST OLD MAN (1997), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . WILL I EVER REMEMBER YOU? (1997), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . SONGS FOR THE LEGION (1998), song-poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . REALITY OR DREAM? (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . APRIL VIOLATIONS (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE VOICE OF HUNGER (1998), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken

  . SHACKLED TO THE STONE, by Albrecht Haushofer - translated by JR Wesdorp

  . MZ-DMZ (1988), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . DARK SIDE (1991), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . STEEL REIGNS & STILL RAINS (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . BLATANT VANITY (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ALIENATION OF AFFECTION (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . LIVING LIFE AT FACE VALUE (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HATRED BLURRED (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . CHOKING ON THE ASHES OF A RUNAWAY (1993), ramblings by I. Koshevoy
  . BORROWED FEELINGS BUYING TIME (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HARD ACT TO SWALLOW (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HALL OF MIRRORS (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ARTIFICIAL BUOYANCY (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy

  . THE POETRY OF PEDRO SENA, poems by Pedro Sena
  . THE FILM REVIEWS, by Pedro Sena
  . THE SHORT STORIES, by Pedro Sena
  . INCANTATIONS, by Pedro Sena

  . POEMS (1970), poems by Franz Zorn

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  YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993, 1994, 1995,
  1996, 1997 & 1998 by Klaus J. Gerken.

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