CLIFF CREGO | Cornucopia Peak (±2800 m), northfacing snowpack, end of June 2010

Cornucopia Peak (±2600 m), northfacing snowpack, end of June 2010 . . .
On the road in the American Northwest. [ click photo for next . . . ]


As two learn to walk

together as one,

one of their most primal of fears

is that they might somehow,

by some accident, be separated—

perhaps irreversibly.

That is why Love seeks to protect

every step Freedom makes.

LITTLE STONE MANa poem in rounds

Slowly, rock by rock, feet searching for a route through
the fractured byways of a vast boulder field.

The feeling of being lost mixes with mist, the body
shot full of holes, energy pouring out every which
way, any direction as good as the next.

But one moves on, all the same...
In the distance, a little stone man,
just a pile of rocks five feet tall.

But he’s waving! He’s smiling!
Silent gestures which give one courage,
the whisper of a smooth, comforting voice,

“You’re not lost, keep going!
This is the right way.”

Keep going!

* * * * *

A blaze, a cairn, a metal board,
signs of those who have gone before me,
sounds of front doors firmly snapped shut,
echoing in the forest at night.

In the forest,

the mark of an axe, the wood,
the wound, the trust of trees,
of threads tied, trunks, wombs,
of rocks, of constancy,

...the quiet centers
around which turn
the gift of our returning...


Day-old bootprints in a single row,
a track, a trail, a muddy road,

So much of my now walks on their past,
but how quickly my feet beat their work dumb,
the dulling drone of mechanical drums.

My free, easy rambling
is their hard labor;
my sure step, their fatigue,
their turning back...

But one moves on, all the same...
And everywhere these deafening sounds,
of d r u m s, heavy d r u m s, beating the bounds.

So tell me please,
pathmaker past,
“Where is the unknown

* * * * *

Glaciers, ridges and rivers without end,
these differences, black on white.

A line, a color, a printed page.
A map’s measure of the Earth’s music
or a madman’s dictation?

The sure and certain knowledge that
others have been there before me.

Oh yes, the world is round!
(What a marvelous returning!)

A child draws the hands of a clock
such seriousness,
five, eight minutes pass.

But her face,
so full of frustration, surprise,
seeing what’s written
belongs to the past.

Belongs to the past,
But one keeps going, all the same...

And everywhere, echoing,
these deafening sounds, beating the bounds,
of d r u m s, heavy d r u m s, beating the bounds.

So tell me please,
mapmaker past,
“Where is the unknown

* * * * *

A letter, a word,
a sound, a phrase.
Meter, matrix, mother of all,
tell me, tell me please.

Where to with this need to be lost?
Where can this little girl build her
man of stones?

To mark that place where
maps have dragons and
trails have tails wrapping
round themselves,

where a l l is f i r e,



no s o u n d,

no s i g n,

steady light.

| download mp3 |


The above written text is from my point of view a very
simple and inadequate musical score. That means, that
all that is notated is the sequence of sounds and words,
but not—and this is its fatal flaw—not, the rhythm.

Rhythm? Well much could be said on this theme. But just
let me say here that rhythm in music has at least six different
levels as part of a temporal hierachy. This is what we learn
to give attention to, and what becomes second nature as
a child playing percussion or piano slowing over many years
grows up within a tradition.

I encourage you to experiment and listen. Read the poem.
Then listen to my performance.

What is fascinating for me is that, without understanding why,
I perform the rhythm—accents, pauses, emphasis, breaths, etc—
the same way every time. But if I wanted to notate these rhythms
in standard western classical notation, I couldn't do it. (I'll say
much more one this on another occasion.)

This rhythmic life of poetry is about essence. It is
inseparable from the poems energy and meaning.

This is why I very much dislike what poetry has become in
current Western culture, pinned down like a victim between
the twin excesses of corporate commercialization of musical
taste and perception that manifests in so-called slam poetry (MTV),
and the equally disappointing world of the flat, stuffy, and
boring, academic journal.

Both extremes are, in my view, artifacts of a culture
that is in almost every way dominated by a razor-thin bandwidth
of the world as seen merely by the eyes, not as heard and
esperienced by one's entire instrument.

51 longer narrative poems | lower-right for full-screen view |

If you're a picture-poems fan, please visit my Living Water
—the best of my flowform photography w/ a selection
of quality prints & frames . . .

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All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 2011
(created: IX.15.2007)