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About this Poem 

"This poem is set like a spine within the glorious Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and specifically on its fragile tundra. Tundra is known for its excessively low temperature and endangered eco-system (due to global warming) and derives from the Kildin Sami (formerly Lappish) word 'treeless mountain tract.' Wanting to genuflect or bow, one is awed by the spiritual power of tundra, of mountains, lichen, magnificent moose, and elk in this majestic environment. And one gets a sense, also, of Nature’s phenomenal shifts and dynamics and magic (which resonate through time), considering this was all once ocean. I am deeply grateful to the will to keep this place safe and sound for generations to come. May it continue to thrive whatever the follies of mankind."
Anne Waldman

Devotee

for the wisdom of the Rocky Mountain National Park

what to call wild use
of nature
to the human
where character
is centered
entering like a devotee,
genuflecting, vast space
what to call drama
of containment edging
unknown? tundra’s
tenacious
front to the stars,
above all tree-lines
can you breathe?
what is your risk,
anthropoid?
to lichen, moss imbricating
delicate plants hundreds
years
in the making
shivery!  sweetest
tiny world
what’s next,
where is our ark?
all directions of space
glance across moraines
near and far to plunge
or fly?
gambol like a shaman with
mountain denizens
a raw and windblown
dance
of preservation,
let no one break or tread
rigor you barely understand,
o human rangers
guardians as keepers of
land’s vision
inside trembling
precarious
Anthropocene
make wonder, not wreck
things you barely
know of this world
bow down to
dark power’s
indigenous alchemy
wild basin
when I could see death
inside the camp’s firelight
night we sat vigil for our sick friend
in coma and
sun was strong by day
and later ice was blinding
(he lived a little longer)

ecology of mind!
“to preserve this
element of unknown places”
(Aldo Leopold)
when it was never summer
when it was timeless
Rocky spine cut a divide
touched a nerve
confluence of lines,
east & west
held a universe
let us in
Blake’s garden of love
and see what you
never have seen
marked out by the magus
trickster shaman
playing in
zone of the bighorn
there is an elk in your future
if you wait
there is a black bear in your future
if you let him live
beyond Illusion
of the poetic
not made in your image
for your pleasure
yet they are sublime
(beneath a surface
cities of discontent
go down)
walk climb stop stare
rake
mind’s neurons flashing
you stumble
you gaze
you touch inside loneliness
at 11,000  feet
moose and elk
in continuity
below
mirroring illuminating
a beautiful
desolation
outburst sounding
rut and passion
a circuitous present
where you
pick up
a shard of shell
back up
on the tundra
evidence of
once was ocean
wisdom
dakinis,
lokapalas, imps
mountain deities
nod and
bow, o gratitude!
without this
care
we lose our way
kill the thing we need, we love
you better know.



Aldo Leopold (1887-1948): American philosopher and ecologist,
best known for his book Sand Country Almanac.

dakinis:  female embodiments of enlightened energy

lokapalas: dieties of place

Copyright © 2016 by Anne Waldman. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

Copyright © 2016 by Anne Waldman. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

Anne Waldman

Anne Waldman

A prominent figure in the Beat poetry generation, Anne Waldman has published over forty books of poetry and is the cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016.

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2
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A trio of instruments you love the notes
indissectible & extending small rockets of delight
force to love, be loved, love accelerating
love momentum, the love to travel
we will never agree the world contains
so much phenomena we’ll put on glasses
abstract it give it structure make