selected poems

BE WATER

That is the plan in the Hong Kong resistance
Flow through streets, leaderless
emergent, responsive to the moment
impenetrable to infiltrators 

Be Water 

The stuff left in plastic jugs in borderlands
for comfort and salvation of those
seeking refuge
Be the sweat of those who leave the jugs
Be the moisture forming at the point of contact with the handcuffs 

Be Water 

Be the dew formed at sunrise on the spider web
A shining mandala of beauty and survival 

Be the steam
rising at the edge of the lava bed
the insistent creation of new land
in this time of decline 

Be Water 

be herbal tea for healing
the sick and the hopeless
be the blood of the one
offering the cup in an outstretched hand
Be the one in the bed, loved. 

Be the IV fluid
restoring balance in the emergency
until things change back
until the Body remembers 

Be Water 

Be the unapologetic tear
of grief
or gratitude 

Be the storm
Be fury and change and unpredictable
uncovering of the predicament we are in 

Be the tide, breathing in and out
reminding us of the daily fullness and slack of life,
the rhythms of the universe in our bodies 
 

Be the river, undammed,
welcoming the salmon 

Be the rain
Be the silence before the rain
the rivulets after, seeking the parched 

Be Water 

Be the blessing of baptism
no matter your faith
the drops of water landing with love
on the newly born 

be the amniotic fluid
holding safe, with or without hope,
the future
because it’s there anyway
in the fragile sac of becoming. 

 

- Barbara Ford 2019

Shadow Conspiracy 

 

This light, this day with the 
red cedars and ferns 
Leaves me dreaming 
of ancient roots 
anchoring my feet 
to a path 
we share together. 

The light slants so that I am 
figured on the stump 
alive with coppery rhizomes 
and unseen fungi, 
slowly eating the fading songs 
of wind, wood, water 

We breathe together 
that cedar and I 
or perhaps it is the village 
of cedar eaters I breathe with instead 
my breath out 
becomes their breath in 

When I too am felled 
my songs will fade 
but will my body keep giving, 
extending roots to feed 
the underground cities of life? 

Will the days of 
protest 
weeping 
fury 
which sometimes stretched my roots 
to the point of breaking 

will that live on in the tangles 
Underneath the duff and soil? 

Will I become the nurse log 
the support for rising wisdom 
deeper clarity 
stronger intention 
enough to finally save the world? 

with each breath 
the cedar song repeats the refrain 
Not mine, not mine, not mine 
to save, but ours 

Our lives 
our wisdom 
our open hearts 
our justice 
our ever-bearing death. 

Barbara Ford, 2019

HUM

The grey stone path crosses the meadow.
today is a kind, easy weather
sun softened by high wisps of cloud
by rising mist from the river below
Daisies wave, native bees
nestle and hum in the sweet clover
near hidden in the grass
Breeze hums as well
moves through the green shapes
sculpting the future curves
of branch, leaf, needle 

a memory arises like another distant mist
a long ago breeze
another grey path
my bike hit by an errant driver
a fall through space
my head struck like a drum 

Percussion. Concussion.
an internal change that leaves
a left ear that now plays endless overtones
even in my sleep
the soft drone
of all the hums in the world
singing in my skull.

 

Barbara Ford     7/7/19 

CANTATA

The monk in me
the one who
peers at the embered world
with growing dread and awe
sits in restless quietude
unsure, in the best way,

of the path through 

Breath rises with oceans
Lungs burn with forests
holy and mournful songs
arise from within
unfettered landscapes of change 

no one emotion
no one tissue of trauma
or tenderness
rule in this moment 

Even as I might move through
the world with earthly dedication
quiet intention
a vision for justice
for the faltering world 

there are frozen cascades of grief
which can halt any trust
in the labor
or the possibility of mending 

only the heart’s cadence
urging fresh warm streams of love
can thaw this fierce moment of stillness. 

Only the memories of a ginkgo leaf
a fawn, a kiss, a steady gaze,
a warbling wren symphony,
can lift the notes of breath again
to join the voices
rushing through the trees. 

the shifting winds
compose the landscapes
of the emerging world

and our witness
that is the accompanying drone
the steady note of presence
the refusal of denial
the promise to stay
and heal what we can
fending off
the coda
the final passage
the last sigh of the universe

 

Barbara Ford 2019